5102 - Spice of Life
Alice Yang - Holy Cross SS


For centuries, Indian spices have made a significant contribution to health care and food preservation (Sofia et al., 2007). In ancient India and Asia, herbs and spices consumed in food or used as medicine were thought to improve sanitation, health, hygiene and increase life span (Sofia et al., 2007).
Contamination of food caused by unsanitary practices continues to facilitate the transmission of food borne illnesses such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli and be a key concern for the food processing and food service industry, as well as the home kitchen. Many food-associated outbreaks of E.coli have occurred from apple cider, beef, poultry and milk.
The spread of drug resistant pathogenic bacteria continues to be a serious threat to successful treatment of microbial diseases. Overuse of chemical synthetic antibiotic agents have contributed to the increase of antibiotic resistant stains of pathogenic bacteria.
A large number of plants are used to combat different types of diseases. Research has demonstrated that essential oil extracts from many kinds of oriental spice plants are known to possess antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, insecticidal and antioxidant properties (to a varying degree) besides being used for the purposes of food preservation, appetizer promotion and medicinal purposes (Sofia et al., 2007; Singh et al., 2007 Prabuseenivasan et al., Tsao & Yin, 2001; Banerjee & Sarkar 2003; Elsom et al., 2003). World Health Organization suggests that the majority of the world’s population relies on traditional or natural medicine for primary health care. Aromatic plants are a major source of natural organic compounds used in traditional medicine (Prabuseenivasan et al., 2006).
In this investigation, the antimicrobial activity of cinnamon, allicin and raw garlic is examined and compared against Penicillium notatum, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. The results from this investigation are important for food preservation, the development of alternative sanitation methods for the prevention of disease transmission and the development of alternative medicines and therapeutic agents that treat disease. Utilization of natural therapies will also reduce the evolution of antibiotic resistant strains of bacterial pathogens.
To determine the antimicrobial effects of cinnamon and allicin against Penicillium notatum, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus saprophyticus and the antibacterial effects of raw garlic against Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
Cinnamon, allicin and raw garlic will have an antimicrobial effect against Penicillium notatum, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
Methods with Results
The antimicrobial activity of cinnamon, allicin and garlic were examined quantitatively by zone of inhibition on agar plates. This broad spectrum assay was performed using streak plate method with paper disk diffusion and surface diffusion method.
Cinnamon showed excellent inhibitory activity against all of the selected micro-organisms. Allicin exhibited slight to no inhibition against all selected micro-organisms. Raw garlic showed strong inhibitory activity against Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
The effectiveness of inhibitors can be sequenced as follows in descending order against different micro-organisms by disk diffusion and surface diffusion assay:
P. notatum         Cinnamon> Allicin
P. fluorescens     Cinnamon>Allicin
S. saprophyticus  Cinnamon>Raw garlic> Allicin