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Int J Food Microbiol. 1999 Mar 1;47(1-2):67-77.

The antifungal properties of chitosan in laboratory media and apple juice.

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  • 1School of Applied Science, South Bank University, London, UK.


The antimicrobial properties of chitosan glutamate, a derivative of chitin, were investigated in laboratory media and apple juice against 15 yeasts and moulds associated with food spoilage in order to assess the potential for using chitosan as a natural food preservative. Of the seven strains of filamentous fungi studied, chitosan reduced the growth rate of Mucor racemosus at 1 g/l whilst concentrations of 5 g/l were required to completely prevent growth of three strains of Byssochlamys spp. on agar plates incubated at 25 degrees C for 3 weeks. Three strains of filamentous fungi were resistant to the antifungal effects of chitosan at 10 g/l. The presence of chitosan in apple juice (pH 3.4) at levels ranging from 0.1 to 5 g/l inhibited growth at 25 degrees C of all eight spoilage yeasts examined in this study. The initial effect of chitosan in apple juice was biocidal with viable numbers reduced by up to 3 log cycles. Following an extended lag phase, some strains recovered and resumed growth to levels similar to those observed in unsupplemented apple juice. The most sensitive strain was an isolate of Zygosaccharomyces bailii obtained from a spoiled carbonated beverage; this yeast was completely inactivated by chitosan at 0.1 and 0.4 g/l for 32 days of storage at 25 degrees C. The most resistant strain was Saccharomycodes ludwigii, an isolate from spoiled cider: a level of addition of 5 g/l of chitosan was required to inactivate this strain and to maintain yeast-free conditions in apple juice for 14 days at 25 degrees C. Growth inhibition and inactivation of filamentous moulds and yeasts, respectively, was concentration-, pH- and temperature-dependent. It was concluded that chitosan was worthy of further study as a natural preservative for foods prone to fungal spoilage.

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