Staff at independent Dutch research organization TNO have identified natural ingredients capable of eradicating bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. The discovery has been tested on ESBL bacterial but can also be used to combat EHEC E. coli, with possible uses in both the poultry and pig industries.

“This breakthrough is vital to the future of public health," said Dr. Jan Pieter van der Lugt, director of food and nutrition at TNO. "There are countless bacteria out there capable of mutating into equally dangerous counterparts of the EHEC bacteria. For instance, 94% of the chicken in our supermarkets is infected with ESBL bacteria which have also become resistant to antibiotics. The excessive use of antibiotics in the veterinary sector means that more and more of these substances are finding their way into our food. Eventually, bacteria get so used to them that they become resistant.

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According to van der Lugt, it is only logical that livestock farmers want to keep their cows, pigs, chicken and calves healthy, but indiscriminate antibiotic use can create "a ticking time bomb. Eventually, it will work against us," he said. "We are, therefore, going in search of ingredients already found in the natural world which can kill harmful bacteria.”