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Natural Awakenings

The Secret Life of Feta: More Than Just a Flavorful Cheese

Jul 01, 2008 03:00AM

Feta is a surefire cheesy, tangy favorite on summer salads, pasta and sandwiches. But, according to researchers at the Society for General Microbiology, in Edinburgh, U.K., this popular Greek cheese can do more than just please the palate. Eating feta made from raw sheep’s milk, they’ve discovered, is a good way to combat food poisoning—an omnipresent threat during hot summer months. They attribute feta’s unique properties to the lactic acid bacteria found in raw sheep’s milk, which also gives feta and other Mediterranean cheeses their special flavors.

Several friendly bacteria in feta cheese naturally produce antibiotics that kill off dangerous food-poisoning bacteria, such as Listeria, a dangerous and stubborn bacterial strain. Through this new discovery, the researchers hope to soon be able to replace synthetic additives and preservatives in foods with these useful bacteria, employing them as ‘natural antibiotics’ to fight food-borne illnesses.

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