Antimicrobial Activity of Individual and Combined Essential Oils against Foodborne Pathogenic Bacteria

J Food Prot. 2016 Feb;79(2):309-15. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-392.


The antimicrobial activities of essential oils from Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri Schauer), mustard (Brassica nigra), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) were evaluated alone and in binary combinations against Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, or Salmonella Enteritidis. Chemical compositions of the essential oils were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The MICs of the evaluated essential oils ranged from 0.05 to 0.50% (vol/vol). Mustard essential oil was the most effective, likely due to the presence of allyl isothiocyanate, identified as its major component. Furthermore, mustard essential oil exhibited synergistic effects when combined with either Mexican oregano or thyme essential oils (fractional inhibitory concentration indices of 0.75); an additive effect was obtained by combining thyme and Mexican oregano essential oils (fractional inhibitory concentration index = 1.00). These results suggest the potential of studied essential oil mixtures to inhibit microbial growth and preserve foods; however, their effect on sensory quality in selected foods compatible with their flavor needs to be assessed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development
  • Mexico
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mustard Plant / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Origanum / chemistry*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Thymus Plant / chemistry*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • mustard oil