Belfast Telegraph

Spices 'may reduce gas emissions'

Curry spices may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists
Curry spices may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists

Curry spices could hold the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scientists have claimed.

Research has found that coriander and turmeric - spices traditionally used to flavour curries - can reduce the amount of methane produced by sheep by up to 40%.

Working a bit like an antibiotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing "bad" bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the "good" bacteria to flourish.

The findings are part of a study by Newcastle University research student Mohammad Mehedi Hasan and Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry.

Mr Hasan explained: "Spices have long been used safely by humans to kill bacteria and treat a variety of ailments - coriander seeds, for example, are often prescribed for stomach complaints while turmeric and cloves are strong antiseptics.

"Methane is a major contributor to global warming and the slow digestive system of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep makes them a key producer of the gas.

"What my research found was that certain spices contain properties which make this digestive process more efficient so producing less waste - in this case, methane."

Latest figures held by Defra show that in 2009 there was an estimated 30 million sheep in the UK each producing around 20 litres of methane a day.

As well as the environmental implications of this, the sheep also wastes vital energy, losing an estimated 12% of its food energy to methane production that results in a lower milk and meat yield.

In recent years, antibiotics were added to feed but these were banned by the European Union in 2006.

PA

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