Novel mono-substituted carbohydrate fatty acid (CFA) esters and ethers were investigated for their antibacterial activity against a range of pathogenic and spoilage bacteria focussing on Listeria monocytogenes. Carbohydrate derivatives with structural differences enable comparative studies on the structure/activity relationship for antimicrobial efficacy and mechanism of action. The antimicrobial efficacy of the synthesized compounds was compared with commercially available compounds such as monolaurin and monocaprylin, as well as the pure free fatty acids, lauric acid and caprylic acid, which have proven antimicrobial activity. Compound efficacy was compared using an absorbance based broth microdilution assay to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), increase in lag phase and decrease in maximum growth rate. Among the carbohydrate derivatives synthesized, lauric ether of methyl alpha-d-glucopyranoside and lauric ester of methyl alpha-d-mannopyranoside showed the highest growth-inhibitory effect with MIC values of 0.04 mM, comparable to monolaurin. CFA derivatives were generally more active against Gram positive bacteria than Gram negative bacteria. The analysis of both ester and ether fatty acid derivatives of the same carbohydrate, in tandem with alpha and beta configuration of the carbohydrate moiety suggest that the carbohydrate moiety is involved in the antimicrobial activity of the fatty acid derivatives and that the nature of the bond also has a significant effect on efficacy, which requires further investigation. This class of CFA derivatives has great potential for developing antibacterial agents relevant to the food industry, particularly for control of Listeria or other Gram-positive pathogens.