Just in time for the holiday weekend, medical researchers are reporting an experiment showing another health benefit of wine: its superior ability to kill off illness-causing bacteria in food.
Writing in today’s British Medical Association Journal, researchers led by Dr. Martin E. Weisse of West Virginia University said they found that both red and white wine do a better job of killing foodborne bacteria than several other substances, including the active ingredient in diarrhea medicines like Pepto-Bismol.
Weisse and his colleagues took 3.8-milliliter amounts of a Portuguese red table wine and a California chardonnay, straight and diluted with various amounts of water, and injected them with about 10 million salmonella, shigella or E. coli bacteria.
In every case, the red and white wine polished off the digestion-disturbing bacteria significantly faster than equivalent amounts of bismuth salicylate or tequila or grain alcohol diluted to wine-level proof.
Those three bacteria are common causes of food-related stomach ailments and diarrhea. The Pepto-Bismol ingredient wiped out the foodborne bugs, but took three or four times as long as wine, the researchers found. The tequila and pure alcohol took even longer.
The findings, which created a media frenzy across wine-loving Europe, were greeted with humor by Procter & Gamble Co., manufacturers of Pepto-Bismol.
“We’re not sure about the germ-killing potential of wine, but we do know for sure that Pepto-Bismol will do that without giving you a headache the next day,” said company spokesman Jim Schwartz.