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Using carob to fight bacteria

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According to a report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Science, the leaves of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) have been found to be a rich source of antibacterial compounds active against Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium responsible for food poisoning.

Although it is relatively rare, listeriosis causes more deaths from food poisoning in the UK than any other food-borne bacteria and viruses. Listeria is found principally in meat, fish and dairy produce.

In this new study, the growth of Listeria monocytogenes was inhibited by a methanolic extract of carob leaves. Among a range of compounds found in carob, four — epigallocatechin-3-gallate, gallic acid, (-)-myricitrin and isoquercitin — were found to inhibit the growth of the bacterium.

The carob tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean, where it has been cultivated for at least 4,000 years. Its seed pods are used as a substitute for chocolate. Some think it is healthier than chocolate because it is lower in calories and fat. It also contains neither caffeine nor theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

If the results of this study are confirmed, carob may also find a use in preventing food poisoning.

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