Spices Battle Bugs

Spice-rack favorites battle foodborne pathogens, including E.coli.


| August 1, 2008


Sidebar:
Eight Top E. Coli Fighters 

Herbs and spices like oregano, thyme, cinnamon and clove do more than add pleasing flavors and aromas to familiar foods. The oils from these plants, or compounds extracted from those oils, pack a powerful, antimicrobial punch – strong enough to help quell such foodborne pathogens as Escherichia coli O157:H7.

That's according to Agricultural Research Service chemist Mendel Friedman, who several years ago evaluated the bacteria-bashing power of these and dozens of other plant compounds.

Now, some of the compounds that Friedman and co-investigators determined were the strongest combatants of E. coli, Salmonella enterica, Campylobacter jejuni or Listeria monocytogenes in the 2002 study are being tapped for new research focused on food safety.

For example, Friedman, research leader Tara H. McHugh and other scientists at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California, are evaluating the highest-ranking botanical bactericides as potential ingredients in what are known as edible films.

A thin, pliable, edible film for the future might be made of puréed spinach spiked with carvacrol, the compound responsible for oregano's ranking as a top fighter of E. coli in the Friedman study.





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