Although they may not make your burger taste better, an extra ingredient tested by the Agricultural Research Service and university scientists may make your backyard barbecue safer.
Scientists are testing the use of select plant extracts to kill foodborne pathogens that can be found in ground beef. A USDA blog post says scientists at the ARS’ Western Regional Research Center are testing the effect of olive powder, apple powder and onion powder as a weapon against Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Studies have found olive powder is effective in decreasing Escherichia coli O157:H7 and retards the formation of heterocyclic amines, an unhealthy substance that can form on burger patties while they cook. Two of the amines studied in the experiment are on the National Toxicology Program’s roster of possible carcinogens.
In the study, high levels of E. coli O157:H7 were added to ground beef patties, along with olive powder. The results found the plant extract reduced the two amines studies, MeIQx and PhIP by 80 and 84 percent respectively when the burger was cooked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill microbes including E. coli.
According to the USDA, E. coli O157:H7 is blamed for more than 73,000 cases of illness annually.