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Antilisterial activity of Cymbopogon citratus on crabsticks

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Mauritius, Mauritius

Listeria monocytogenes is a gram positive, psychrotrophic, facultative anaerobic bacterium and it is the etiological agent of listeriosis, a severe foodborne disease of major public health concern. There is a rising concern about the cross-contamination of surimi-based products with L. monocytogenes during handling and storage. Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is known to exhibit strong antimicrobial activity against bacteria due to the presence of citral. The objectives of this research were: (i) to develop a water-based extraction procedure for the antimicrobial component(s) in lemon grass and (ii) to evaluate the antimicrobial effect of a concentrated water-based extract and commercial essential oil (EO) of lemon grass against L. innocua (ATCC 33090), a surrogate strain of L. monocytogenes, in vitro and on crabsticks. Briefly, antilisterial activity of concentrated extract and commercial EO of lemon grass was tested using the agar well diffusion technique. Crabsticks were subsequently inoculated with L. innocua to a final density of ca. 4 log cfu/g and then coated with 500 ml of either concentrated extract or 0.5% commercial EO and stored at 4 °C for up to 15 days. Samples were then subjected to microbiological analysis every 5 days to enumerate counts of Listeria. Following the agar well diffusion assay, inhibition zones with mean diameters of 18.3 and 21.0 mm were obtained with the concentrated extract and commercial EO respectively. The population of L. innocua in WBE-coated (4.2 log cfu/g) and 0.5% EO-coated (2.7 log cfu/g) samples were significantly lower (P < 0.05) after 15 days than their untreated control counterpart (5.2 log cfu/g). Lemon grass extract and essential oil have the potential to control growth of L. monocytogenes in seafood surimi products with minimal adverse effect on the organoleptic characteristics of the product and thus can possibly be used as a natural food preservative.
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