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E. Coli Electric Shock Therapy Shows Promise In New Study


First Posted: 01/12/12 05:07 PM ET Updated: 01/12/12 05:07 PM ET

Recent studies, and the last episode of Homeland, have reaffirmed the efficacy of electric shock therapy of major depression and bipolar disorder. The treatment remains controversial, but it's considered a solid choice for the most serious cases. But could electricity have uses in fields of medicine other than psychiatry? A new study from researchers at Fort Valley State University and Virginia Tech says yes.

The study looked at the potential for the use of electricity as a kind of food irradiation to combat foodborne illness. Researchers grew cultures of E. coli on beef samples, then sent low-voltage alternating currents of electricity through the beef to see if the bacteria would survive. According to the paper, "The low voltage current reduced E. coli by 98.9% in 16 minutes."

The researchers were not explicitly testing the method for its effect on meat quality, so it's unclear whether electricity could provide a viable alternative to standard irradiation in the future. But with the public still largely mistrustful of irradiation as a food safety measure -- and with E. coli still a serious health hazard -- it seems like it's at least worth considering.

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Filed by Joe Satran  |  Report Corrections