Added Sugar Linked to Rise in Bacterial Infections
A new study suggests a widely-used food additive – the simple sugar trehalose – may be responsible for the alarming increase in Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) infections worldwide. Trehalose is added by the food industry to improve the texture and stability of some food products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the threat level from C. difficile bacteria – which causes half a million infections and kills about 15,000 people each year, mostly older adults – has been rising over the past 20 years and been classified as urgent since 2013. This new research, published in Nature, connects this increase in bacterial infections with the widespread use of trehalose.
Although trehalose is “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. Food Administration (FDA), hospitals and long-term care facilities that experience an outbreak of C. difficile caused by certain strains of the bacteria should consider modifying patients' and residents' diets to restrict trehalose consumption, according to researchers.