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J Food Prot. 2001 Jul;64(7):1019-24.

Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms.

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Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Food Science and Technology, Food Safety Center, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37919, USA.


The beneficial health effects of extracts from many types of plants that are used as seasoning agents in foods and beverages have been claimed for centuries. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of selected herb and spice essential oils for control of growth and survival of microorganisms. Inhibition of growth was tested by the paper disc agar diffusion method. Antibiotic susceptibility discs were used as control. Minimum lethal concentration (MLC) was determined by the tube dilution method. Essential oils from anise, angelica, basil, carrot, celery, cardamom, coriander, dill weed, fennel, oregano, parsley, and rosemary were evaluated. Inhibition ranged from complete with oregano to no inhibition with carrot oil for each of the test strains that included: Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O:157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Lactobacillus plantarum, Aspergillus niger, Geotrichum, and Rhodotorula. Oregano essential oil showed the greatest inhibition (zone, > or = 70 to 80 mm) (MLC, approximately 8 ppm). Coriander and basil were also highly inhibitory (MLC, approximately 25 to 50 ppm) to E. coli O:157:H7 and to the other bacteria and fungi tested. Anise oil was not particularly inhibitory to bacteria (inhibition zone, approximately 25 mm); however, anise oil was highly inhibitory to molds. Because some of the herbal and spice essential oils are highly inhibitory to selected pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, they may provide alternatives and supplements to conventional antimicrobial additives in foods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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