When cinnamon is in, Escherichia coli O157:H7 is out. That's what researchers at Kansas State University discovered in laboratory tests with cinnamon and apple juice heavily tainted with the bacteria. Presented at the Institute of Food Technologists' 1999 Annual Meeting in Chicago on July 27, the study findings revealed that cinnamon is a lethal weapon against E. coli O157:H7 and may be able to help control it in unpasteurized juices.
Lead researcher Erdogan Ceylan, M.S., reported that in apple juice samples inoculated with about one million E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, about one teaspoon (0.3 percent) of cinnamon killed 99.5 percent of the bacteria in three days at room temperature (25 C). When the same amount of cinnamon was combined with either 0.1 percent sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, preservatives approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the E. coli were knocked out to an undetectable level. The number of bacteria added to the test samples was 100 times the number typically found in contaminated food.
"This research indicates that the use of cinnamon alone and in combination with preservatives in apple juice, besides its flavoring effect, might reduce and control the number of E. coli O157:H7," concluded Ceylan, a Ph.D. graduate assistant at K-State. "Cinna-mon may help protect consumers against foodborne bacteria that may be in unpasteurized juices and may partially or completely replace preservatives in foods to maintain their safety," he said.
"If cinnamon can knock out E. coli O157:H7, one of the most virulent foodborne microorganisms that exists today, it will certainly have antimicrobial effects on other common foodborne bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter," noted Daniel Y.C. Fung, Ph.D., professor of Food Science in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at K-State, who oversaw the research.