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J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1848-53. doi: 10.1021/jf8022657.

Carvacrol facilitates heat-induced inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and inhibits formation of heterocyclic amines in grilled ground beef patties.

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Western Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Albany, CA 94710, USA.


Heating meat at high temperature and/or for a long time to kill foodborne pathogens increases the formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines. To overcome this problem, 1% carvacrol, the main ingredient of oregano oil widely used in salad dressings, was added to ground beef, which was mixed well and then inoculated with Escherichia coli O157:H7. Beef patties were then prepared and heat-treated on a preheated electrical skillet to reach an internal temperature of 65, 70, or 80 degrees C at the cold spot. Samples were enumerated for surviving E. coli O157:H7 population by plating on appropriate media. Heterocyclic amines (MeIQ, MeIQx, and PhIP) were extracted from ground beef using solid phase extraction and analyzed by mass spectrometry. Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) scan type in positive mode was used to monitor the amines of interest. Compared to controls, the population of E. coli O157:H7 was reduced by 2.5-5 logs. The corresponding highest reductions in the three major amines were MeIQ, 58%; MeIQx, 72%; and PhIP, 78%. The results show that carvacrol concurrently reduced E. coli O157:H7 and amines in a widely consumed meat product. Possible mechanisms of the beneficial effects and dietary significance of the results are discussed.

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