CHICAGO — New research indicates the ingredients in some edible, apple-based films can help control pathogens in meat and poultry products.

According to a new study in the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists, University of Arizona researchers investigated the use of carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde in apple-based films provides numerous benefits.

"The use of edible antimicrobial films offers several consumer advantages, including prevention of moisture loss, control of dripping juices — which reduces cross-contamination — reduction of rancidity and discoloration, and prevention of foreign odor pick-up," said Sadhana Ravishankar, lead researcher. Carvacrol is the main ingredient of oregano oil, and cinnemaldehyde is the main ingredient of cinnamon oil. The researchers investigated how antimicrobials in these films would protect against S. enterica and E. coli O157:H7 on chicken breast and L. monocytogenes on ham at two different temperatures.

"Our findings provide a scientific rationale for large-scale application of apple-based antimicrobial films to improve microbial food safety," said Ravishankar.

Their findings are:

  • Carvacrol was a stronger antimicrobial agent against both Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 than cinnamaldehyde on the chicken breast at 4° C. (39.2° F)
  • At 23°C, (73.4° F) S. enterica population reductions were similar for both carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde but higher for carvacrol against E. coli O157:H7.
  • Carvacrol was also a stronger antimicrobial agent against L. monocytogenes than cinnamaldehyde on ham at 4° C (39.2° F) and 23° C. (73.4° F).

* The antimicrobials containing apple films were also effective against the natural microflora present on raw chicken breast.

This study was conducted in collaboration with Mendel Friedman and colleagues of U.S.D.A.-A.R.S.-W.R.R.C. in Albany, Calif., where the apple-based edible antimicrobial films were prepared. This research was partially supported by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona and by the U.S.D.A.-C.S.R.E.E.S.-N.R.I. grant #2006-01321.