WASHINGTON – Olive powder and other plant compounds may be effective tools in the fight against foodborne pathogens, according the US Department of Agriculture.

USDA and university researchers are studying the effectiveness of olive powder and other plant-based compounds against pathogens such as E. coli. Mendel Friedman, a research chemist with the Agricultural Research Service, and his colleagues added high doses of E. coli O157:H7 to ground beef patties, along with olive powder or other plant compounds, according to USDA. The patties were cooked to 160˚F and then test for levels of E. coli and two amines, carcinogenic compounds that can be formed during cooking.

Researchers found that olive powder outperformed other powders (apple, onion or garlic, for example) that were tested. Friedman said follow-up studies are needed to pinpoint which compounds are responsible for these results, and to determine whether the amount added in the ground beef experiments alters the hamburgers' flavor, USDA reported.

USDA added that the study may be the first to show olive powder's performance in concurrently suppressing two major amines and a pervasive E. coli.