Spices May Be Key To Safe Seafood

Monday, August 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are looking into ways to use agents found in such common spices as oregano and cloves to kill disease-carrying bacteria in raw fish and shellfish.

Though spices have been used for hundreds of years to preserve food, modern science has been able to isolate, extract and concentrate the specific bacteria-killing agents within the spices.

Agents extracted from ginger, cloves and oregano are among those the UMass researchers are investigating for use against two bacteria found on raw seafood — vibrio vulnificus and listeria monocytogenes — both of which can cause potentially deadly diseases.

The agents don't affect the taste of the seafood — at least in lab studies, said microbiologist Robert Levin.

``The concentration used is quite low and most people probably would not be able to detect it,'' he said.

The multiyear research project, which is being funded with a $238,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will also look at the number and types of bacteria found on fish and shellfish as they come into processing plants and the development of new safety standards for raw seafood.