CHICAGO, Ill. -- Consumers may have an arsenal of food safety weapons in their spice racks, according to Kansas State University (KSU) researchers, who presented preliminary study results on the antimicrobial properties of spices at the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT's) 1998 Annual Meeting & FOOD EXPO in Atlanta June 21.
The researchers' poster "Reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground Meat by Selected Spices" reported the antimicrobial effects of 24 spices tested against the foodborne pathogen in a laboratory medium, uncooked hamburger, and uncooked salami. KSU researchers included Erdogan Ceylan, M.S., Donghyun Kang, Ph.D., and Daniel Y.C. Fung, Ph.D.
In the hamburger study, "clove had the highest inhibitory effect, [followed] in potency by cinnamon, garlic, oregano, and sage," Fung said. However, in the laboratory studies, garlic had the highest inhibitory effect.
The addition of 1.0 percent spice (garlic, clove, and cinnamon) to salami mixed with starter culture and E. coli O157:H7 resulted in successful salami fermentation and slight reduction of the pathogen. However, the addition of 7.5 percent garlic and clove killed 99 percent of the pathogen and still resulted in successful salami fermentation.
Though finding the right balance between antimicrobial effectiveness and taste was a challenge, the KSU study showed that clove, cinnamon, and garlic may have the potential to be used in meat products, especially in fermented ones, to control the growth of E. coli O157:H7. Fung said his research may be also applied to other pathogens because often when E. coli is killed, Salmonella and other bad bugs are also destroyed.
"If you add more spice to your cooking, you will definitely knock off
more microorganisms, especially if you [season with the spices] that we said
kill E. coli," Fung said. "For food manufacturers, similarly, if they use more
spice in their products, they will kill mo
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Institute of Food Technologists