Study Confirms Garlic, Basil, and Thyme Are Promising for Improving Food Safety

Greg Howard
2nd June, 2024

Study Confirms Garlic, Basil, and Thyme Are Promising for Improving Food Safety

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Universidad de Córdoba evaluated the antimicrobial potential of Mediterranean plant extracts against common foodborne pathogens
  • Garlic extracts were most effective against Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus, showing strong inhibition and low minimum inhibitory concentrations
  • Thyme extracts also demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against Bacillus cereus, with high inhibition diameters and low minimum inhibitory concentrations
Foodborne diseases are a significant global health threat, causing both illness and economic losses in the food industry. Traditional methods to control foodborne pathogens often rely on inhibiting microbial growth or applying lethal treatments. However, these methods face challenges as pathogens adapt, making them less effective over time[2]. The need for innovative, natural antimicrobial strategies has led researchers to explore plant extracts as potential solutions. A recent study conducted by the Universidad de Córdoba aimed to evaluate the antimicrobial potential of extracts from Mediterranean plants, specifically Allium, Ocimum, and Thymus species, against common foodborne pathogens[1]. This meta-analysis summarized extensive data from various studies to determine the effectiveness of these plant extracts in inhibiting pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, and Bacillus cereus. The study involved a systematic review of 742 records from a collection of 2,065 articles. Researchers used antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) to assess the extracts' antibacterial capabilities, focusing on inhibition diameters (ID) and minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC). These metrics help determine how effectively an antimicrobial agent can prevent bacterial growth and the lowest concentration needed to inhibit visible growth, respectively. The findings revealed that Bacillus cereus was most susceptible to Allium sativum (garlic) extracts, with a pooled ID of 20.64 ± 0.61 mm using diffusion methods. Staphylococcus aureus showed the highest sensitivity to Allium sativum by dilution methods, with a pooled MIC of 0.146 mg/mL. For Ocimum spp. (basil), the lowest pooled MIC was observed for Staphylococcus aureus at 0.263 mg/mL, although diffusion methods did not yield conclusive results for this genus. Thymus spp. (thyme) extracts demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against Bacillus cereus by both diffusion and dilution methods, with pooled IDs and MICs of 28.90 ± 2.34 mm and 0.075 mg/mL, respectively. The study also found that the methodology used for plant extraction did not significantly affect MIC values, suggesting the robustness of the antimicrobial properties of these extracts regardless of the extraction method. Additionally, an inverse correlation between ID and MIC measurements was observed, indicating that as the inhibition diameter increased, the minimum inhibitory concentration decreased, highlighting the extracts' efficacy. These results align with previous studies that have highlighted the potential of plant-based antimicrobials. For instance, research has shown that plant compounds, extracts, and essential oils possess significant antimicrobial activity, particularly against multidrug-resistant bacteria[3]. The most active compounds include polyphenols and terpenes, which often disrupt bacterial plasma membranes. Combining these phytochemicals with traditional antibiotics has shown synergistic effects, enhancing their overall antimicrobial capacity[3][4]. Furthermore, the use of natural antimicrobials in food preservation is gaining traction as consumers demand safer, green-labeled foods. Combining natural antimicrobials with other stressors has proven effective in inhibiting microbial growth while maintaining food safety and sensory properties[2]. The current study's findings provide valuable insights for stakeholders in the food industry, including producers, regulatory agencies, and consumers. In conclusion, the meta-analysis by the Universidad de Córdoba demonstrates the robust antimicrobial effectiveness of Mediterranean plant extracts against various foodborne pathogens. These findings support the potential industrial application of these extracts in food preservation, offering a natural and effective alternative to traditional chemical additives and addressing the growing concern of antimicrobial resistance.



Main Study

1) Meta-analysis of antimicrobial activity of Allium, Ocimum, and Thymus spp. confirms their promising application for increasing food safety.

Published 1st June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Controlling foodborne pathogens with natural antimicrobials by biological control and antivirulence strategies.

3) Antibacterial plant compounds, extracts and essential oils: An updated review on their effects and putative mechanisms of action.

4) Tackling Antibiotic Resistance with Compounds of Natural Origin: A Comprehensive Review.

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