This study was undertaken to determine the in vitro antimicrobial activities of 15 commercial essential oils and their main components in order to pre-select candidates for potential application in highly perishable food preservation. The antibacterial effects against food-borne pathogenic bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella Typhimurium, and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7) and food spoilage bacteria (Brochothrix thermosphacta and Pseudomonas fluorescens) were tested using paper disk diffusion method, followed by determination of minimum inhibitory (MIC) and bactericidal (MBC) concentrations. Most of the tested essential oils exhibited antimicrobial activity against all tested bacteria, except galangal oil. The essential oils of cinnamon, oregano, and thyme showed strong antimicrobial activities with MIC ≥ 0.125 μL/mL and MBC ≥ 0.25 μL/mL. Among tested bacteria, P. fluorescens was the most resistant to selected essential oils with MICs and MBCs of 1 μL/mL. The results suggest that the activity of the essential oils of cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and clove can be attributed to the existence mostly of cinnamaldehyde, carvacrol, thymol, and eugenol, which appear to possess similar activities against all the tested bacteria. These materials could be served as an important natural alternative to prevent bacterial growth in food products.
Keywords: Antimicrobial activity; essential oil; food spoilage bacteria; food-borne pathogenic bacteria.