Infectious diseases caused by pathogens and food poisoning caused by spoilage microorganisms are threatening human health all over the world. The efficacies of some antimicrobial agents, which are currently used to extend shelf-life and increase the safety of food products in food industry and to inhibit disease-causing microorganisms in medicine, have been weakened by microbial resistance. Therefore, new antimicrobial agents that could overcome this resistance need to be discovered. Many spices-such as clove, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and cumin-possessed significant antibacterial and antifungal activities against food spoilage bacteria like Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas fluorescens, pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, harmful fungi like Aspergillus flavus, even antibiotic resistant microorganisms such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Therefore, spices have a great potential to be developed as new and safe antimicrobial agents. This review summarizes scientific studies on the antibacterial and antifungal activities of several spices and their derivatives.
Keywords: antibacterial activity; antifungal effect; antimicrobial property; clove; essential oil; oregano; spice; thyme.