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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Apr 11;60(14):3792-9. doi: 10.1021/jf204062p. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Plant extracts, spices, and essential oils inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 and reduce formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in cooked beef patties.

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Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, United States.


Meats need to be heated to inactivate foodborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7. High-temperature treatment used to prepare well-done meats increases the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs). We evaluated the ability of plant extracts, spices, and essential oils to simultaneously inactivate E. coli O157:H7 and suppress HCA formation in heated hamburger patties. Ground beef with added antimicrobials was inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 (10(7) CFU/g). Patties were cooked to reach 45 °C at the geometric center, flipped, and cooked for 5 min. Samples were then taken for microbiological and mass spectrometry analysis of HCAs. Some compounds were inhibitory only against E. coli or HCA formation, while some others inhibited both. Addition of 5% olive or apple skin extracts reduced E. coli O157:H7 populations to below the detection limit and by 1.6 log CFU/g, respectively. Similarly, 1% lemongrass oil reduced E. coli O157:H7 to below detection limits, while clove bud oil reduced the pathogen by 1.6 log CFU/g. The major heterocyclic amines 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx) and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) were concurrently reduced with the addition of olive extract by 79.5% and 84.3% and with apple extract by 76.1% and 82.1%, respectively. Similar results were observed with clove bud oil: MeIQx and PhIP were reduced by 35% and 52.1%, respectively. Addition of onion powder decreased formation of PhIP by 94.3%. These results suggest that edible natural plant compounds have the potential to prevent foodborne infections as well as carcinogenesis in humans consuming heat-processed meat products.

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