[Sca-cooks] ARS Research: Spice Extracts Battle Bacteria

Sharon Gordon gordonse at one.net
Mon Jul 14 06:30:45 PDT 2008


Spice-Rack Favorites Battle E. coli and Other Foodborne Pathogens


ARS News Service

Agricultural Research Service, USDA

Marcia Wood, (301) 504-1662, marcia.wood at ars.usda.gov July 14, 2008 --View
this report online, plus photos and related stories, at
www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr ___________________________________________


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 (ARS) 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, Calif., 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.


The scientists want to find out whether adding small squares of
carvacrol-enhanced spinach purée film to bags of chilled, ready-to-eat
spinach leaves would help protect this salad green against E. coli.


Friedman is also exploring other new uses of the top-rated botanicals from
the earlier study. That investigation, which he conducted with technician
Philip R. Henika and research leader Robert E. Mandrell at Albany, was the
most extensive of its kind at the time it was published. Also notable was
the common basis of comparison, which the team established by inventing new
methods to prepare and test all of the samples. For even more consistency,
the scientists used the same bacterial strains--from the same
suppliers--throughout the investigation.


Read more about the research in the July 2008 issue of Agricultural Research
magazine, available online at:



ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 




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