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Peanuts May Help Prevent Foodborne Illness

Posted on in Food Poisoning

With food poisoning outbreaks occurring on a fairly regular basis, and recalls being announced even more frequently, foodborne illness represents a considerable health concern to many Americans. Often, a recall or government agency notification will provide advice on how to prevent food poisoning, either in general or as related to a specific threat or pathogen. The suggestions usually include proper storage, washing, and preparation of the food product, as well as cleaning and sterilizing prep equipment and work surfaces. A new study suggests, however, that an additional recommendation for preventing foodborne illness could be added: eat more peanuts.

Inspired by recent Salmonella outbreaks associated with peanut butter, researchers at the University of Maryland examined the effect peanuts can have on gut bacteria in the human digestive system. The study looked separately at peanut flour, made exclusively from the kernel, and peanut skin extract, taken from the thin, fibrous membrane that covers the kernel.

Peanut Kernels vs. Peanut Skins

Research showed that peanut flour promoted healthy gut bacteria and reduced the growth of E. coli. The healthy bacteria, in turn, continued to improve digestive health by producing antimicrobials which also slowed the development of E. coli and Salmonella.

Peanut skin extract, on the other hand, seemed to contribute to a decreased growth of probiotic gut bacteria. While the skin also decreased Listeria growth, the reduction in the growth of healthy bacteria created more opportunity for E. coli and Salmonella to develop rapidly.

More Research to Come

It is important to keep in mind, the researchers point out, that peanut skins are considered Generally Recognized as Safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The team's research looked at the impact two peanut products had on digestive bacteria, not actual illness-causing properties. Continued work is planned to further investigate the effect of peanut flour and skins on overall digestive health.

The reduction of foodborne pathogens in the digestive system cannot, obviously, prevent every case of food poisoning or foodborne illness. Maintaining healthy gut bacteria, however, can greatly reduce the risk illness following exposure to a contaminated product. As more pathogens continue to become resistant to antibiotics, prevention is more important than ever.

If you have been the victim of food poisoning or foodborne illness due to manufacturer or kitchen negligence, you deserve legal counsel that will fight for you. Contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today for help understanding your options.

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