In the government’s zeal to manage our health by dictating what we can and cannot eat is it possible that they have increased our risk and susceptibility to disease?
Who knew salt could be up for the job? Well, butchers, for one, who have used it to fight off pathogens like Salmonella for centuries. And it was a casual conversation with a former butcher that led Brayden Whitlock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, to design a pilot study that put salt and copper head to head. Coupon-sized strips of pure, compressed sodium chloride were covered in an MRSA culture, alongside similar strips of antimicrobial copper and stainless steel. Whitlock found that salt killed off the bug 20 to 30 times faster than the copper did, reducing MRSA levels by 85 percent after 20 seconds, and by 94 percent after a minute.
That was “considerably faster” than expected, Whitlock says—and he believes this efficiency could have major ramifications for how bugs like MRSA spread. “It’s great to be able to eliminate pathogens over the course of a few hours,” he says, “but if you think of a busy place that has a doorknob, or a push pad, can you imagine a time when it goes more than a few minutes without being touched? The answer to us is no. And that’s why this is really exciting.”