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Glutamate in foods increases food poisoning by protecting bacteria from acid

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by guest, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. guest

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    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100905231235.htm

    Talented Bacteria Make Food Poisoning Unpredictable
    ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2010) While we are often exposed to bacteria in
    our food which could cause food poisoning, we don't always become ill --
    why should this be so?
    Professor Colin Hill, who is presenting his work at the Society for
    General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham, describes how
    bacteria use different tricks to aid their survival inside the body,
    helping to explain why food poisoning can be so unpredictable.
    One of the biggest challenges faced by food-borne bacteria is acid.
    Acidic conditions, particularly in the stomach and in the gut will kill
    most microbes found in contaminated food.
    Professor Hill's group at University College Cork has revealed that
    Listeria bacteria, which may be found in soft cheeses and chilled
    ready-to-eat products, can overcome harsh acidic conditions by
    exploiting key food ingredients. Listeria that survive are able to cause
    serious and sometimes fatal infections, particularly in the elderly and
    pregnant women.
    Certain food constituents such as the amino acid, glutamate, can help
    the bacteria neutralise acid, allowing the bacteria to pass through the
    stomach unscathed. Professor Hill explains the significance of this.
    "People who consume foods that are contaminated with Listeria and are
    also high in glutamate, such as soft cheese or meat products, have a
    higher chance of developing serious infection than someone eating the
    same quantity of bacteria in a low-glutamate food," he said. "Of course
    this is further complicated by the fact that a contaminated,
    low-glutamate food could be eaten in combination with a high-glutamate
    food such as tomato juice, which could also increase the risk of
    infection."
    Listeria can also take advantage of food processing and storage
    conditions to help them survive. "Bacteria that are exposed to low pH
    before entering the body may adapt to become more acid-tolerant and
    therefore better equipped to deal with acidic conditions in the body.
    For example, Listeria contaminating naturally acidic foods such as
    cheese may be more likely to cause infection than Listeria carried at a
    more neutral pH in water.
    Professor Hill explains how his group's work could help reduce the
    incidence of Listeria infections. "The number of cases of listeriosis
    has nearly doubled in the last decade in Europe. This is because the
    bacterium is so good at overcoming the challenges it faces in food and
    in the body," he said. "Our studies show that consuming Listeria in one
    food may be quite safe, while eating the same amount in another food
    might be lethal. By understanding the role of the food matrix we may be
    able to identify and eliminate high-risk foods from the diet of
    susceptible people."

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