ROCHESTER, NY—In response to increasing American demand for tangier, more hygienic meals, condiment giant French's has introduced a new antibacterial mustard.
"Each year, 15 million cases of bacterial food poisoning originate in U.S. home kitchens, resulting in nausea, diarrhea, fever, and even death," read a press release French's issued Monday. "Now, lunch doesn't have to endanger your health! All-new French's Antibacterial Mustard is the perfect way to add flavor to, and subtract harmful disease-causing bacteria from, your family's favorite meals!"
According to French's representative Darla Nelson, the new hypoallergenic mustard complements the company's expanding line—which includes French's Honey Dijon Mustard and French's Sweet & Tangy Honey Mustard—and kills over 99.99% of harmful germs.
The mustard is orange in color, more translucent than the traditional varieties, and somewhat medicinal in flavor. In product trials performed by French's, mothers preferred antibacterial mustard five to one when informed of its sterilizing properties.
A television commercial for the mustard plays up its prominent role in luncheon sanitization.
"Approximately 9,000 deaths per year are attributed to foodborne pathogens, and the most germ-filled location in the house is the kitchen," a woman says as computer-generated footage zooms in to show worm-like spirochete bacteria multiplying on a slice of bologna. "Normal mustards do nothing to combat the germs that begin forming on meats and cheeses as soon as they're taken out of the refrigerator. But an hour after spreading on our powerful French's Antibacterial Mustard, your lunch is still free of everything but zesty mustard taste!"
Nelson said consumers are increasingly concerned with the lack of germicidal properties in old-fashioned, non-antibacterial condiments.
"When I used to spread old-style mustard on my children's hot dogs, I never knew what sort of bugs were breeding between the buns," said a woman quoted on French's website. "For all I know, microorganisms were actually feeding off the condiments I was squirting on my family's meat. But now that I use French's Antibacterial, I'm reassured by the mustard's bright orange sheen, unique tanginess, and the little foaming bubbles that show it's working. That's a mustard we all can live with."
Not everyone is in favor of the new product. Lloyd Cummings, a toppings expert at the Institute for Public Health, said French's Antibacterial poses more health and taste hazards than it solves.
"We're going to see many American sandwich-makers using these powerful mustards, because the condiments have been marketed as an effective way to lower the risk of infection," Cummings said. "But widespread antibacterial sandwich-spread use will likely result in the formation of a strain of ham- and cheese-originated, drug-resistant bacteria. These 'superlunchbugs' will be more deadly than any bacteria we see today. For lunches prepared or packed for healthy family members, regular household mustard is strong enough. And it tastes a lot less like iodine."
In spite of such warnings, Nelson said all French's mustards will eventually contain triclosan, the most trusted antibacterial agent used in hospitals today, and that the company is currently working on three new germ-fighting sauces: Cattlemen's Kansas City Antibiotic BBQ Sauce, Frank's RedHot Hot Sauce with Hydrogen Peroxide, and French's Worcestershire-Neosporin Sauce.