Olive powder, a substance derived from de-fatting and de-stoning olives, could be effective in combatting both E. coli bacteria and two known carcinogens, government researchers have found. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the University of Arizona- Tucson have discovered that olive powder reduces the amount of E. coli and the amount of MeIQx and PhIP — two substances listed as carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program — in ground beef. This finding was part of a research project examining the effects of various plant extracts, including olive powder, apple powder and onion powder on potentially harmful substances in burgers, reported the Agricultural Research magazine in its May/June 2013 issue. The research team found that, of these naturally derived substances, olive powder was the most effective at improving ground beef safety, reducing the amount of MeIQx by about 80 percent and the amount of PhIP in ground beef by approximately 84 percent. The researchers have yet to determine what part of the olive compound was responsible for reducing the presence of E. coli and the MeIQx and PhIP amines, or to determine whether the presence of olive powder affects ground beef’s flavor. The study was conducted by adding the plant extract being studied to beef patties, which were cooked to 114 degrees F on one side and the flipped and cooked until they reached 160 degrees F, the recommended safe cooking temperature for burgers. Olive powder produced the greatest reduction of the two carcinogens studied.