Lonely Planet Writer

Welsh “super-mead” could safeguard drinkers from food poisoning

Welsh scientists are working on a “super-mead” that could protect drinkers from food poisoning. The fermented-honey drink is based on a 16th-century Welsh beverage called metheglin, reports the BBC.

Ancient mead recipe could cure tummy troubles.
Ancient mead recipe could cure tummy troubles. Image by Chris / CC BY-SA 2.0

Researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals are adding medicinal salmonella-killing herbs to the brew, and have tested more than 50 different plant extracts and hops against a range of bacteria.

Food poisoning affects around one million people a year in the UK alone, and salmonella causes 2500 hospital admissions a year – more than any other pathogen.

Professor Les Baillie said that the drink could protect young people against late-night takeaways. “You can see this would sell very well to students,” he told the BBC. “Perhaps you could protect them from the kebab and the morning after.”

Mead gets its alcohol content from fermented honey, with fruit and spices sometimes added for flavour. Pottery has been found that show it was produced in China as early as 7000 BC. It has played an important role in many European cultures, and is mentioned in Viking myths and a poem attributed to the legendary Welsh poet Taliesin. Adding medicinal herbs to it goes back at least four centuries.

Dr James Blaxland, who led the project, said more work had to be done to come up with the finished drink, but suggested the result could have real effects. “The idea is that we can produce a mead with high levels of the compounds which are active against salmonella,” he told the BBC, “and if people drink enough of our mead on a Saturday night, they might not get ill.”

The researchers were inspired by efforts in Sweden to produce a mead that could help in the battle against antibiotic resistance. They believe the hops used in beer could also be used to prevent bovine tuberculosis and cut methane emissions.