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Originally published February 6 2009

Edible Food Film Made from Tomatoes Prevents E. Coli Contamination

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) An edible film based on simple tomato puree might be able to protect foods from contamination by E. coli and other bacteria, according to a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service and the Western Regional Research Centre, Processed Foods, and published in the Journal of Food Science.

The researchers made an edible, food-coating, tomato-based film and added the chemical carvacrol in concentrations of 0, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0 and 1.5 percent. They then inoculated these films with the O157:H7 strain of E. coli.

Carvacrol is the primary ingredient in oregano oil.

The researchers found that the carvacrol films successfully inhibited bacterial growth and were most effective at a concentration of 0.75 percent.

E. coli O157:H7 grew normally on agar plates with films lacking carvacrol incubated at 35C for 24 or 48 hours," the researchers wrote. "By contrast, no growth was observed on the plates around the film discs containing 0.75 per cent or 1 per cent carvacrol. The extent of bacterial growth inhibition increased as the per cent of carvacrol in the films was increased."

The researchers tested two different methods of making the film, and concluded that continuous casting would be preferable for translating the film into large-scale production.

Demand for natural antimicrobial produces is growing as consumers become increasingly wary of synthetic preservatives. The researchers noted that since the antimicrobial film tested in their study is tomato-based, it might actually provide some of the same health benefits as eating the fruit.

"Consumption of tomatoes, tomato products and isolated bioactive tomato ingredients is reported to be associated with lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension," they said.

The researchers have already begun studies to test whether films based on other fruits and vegetables can be used to inhibit pathogen growth in contaminated meat.

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