Spices 'may reduce gas emissions'
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.