A popular sugar additive is fuelling superbug outbreaks, according to scientists.
Trehalose, which is found in a range of products from biscuits such as Fox’s Party Rings to noodles, is metabolised by the killer bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff), an infection that attacks the bowels and can be fatal.
Research published in the journal Nature claims that increased use of trehalose – claimed by some to be a “healthy” sugar alternative – has sparked health crises around the world.
Until now, antibiotics have thought to be largely to blame for upsetting the balance of the bowel, causing the C. diff to multiply and produce toxins that make a person ill.
But scientists found that two C. diff strains that have caused major outbreaks – RT027 and RT078 – break down trehalose and thrive off it.
“This study provides a good example of how changes in human activity (e.g. changes in food additives) can have unintended consequences relating to the emergence and ultimately the global spread of an infectious agent,” Professor Brendan Wren told the Daily Mail.
C. diff bacteria are found in the digestive system of about 1 in every 30 healthy adults. They often coexist harmlessly with other bacteria in the stomach.
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SOURCE: International Business Times, Josh Robbins