Citrus lemon essential oil: chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities with its preservative effect against Listeria monocytogenes inoculated in minced beef meat

Lipids Health Dis. 2017 Aug 3;16(1):146. doi: 10.1186/s12944-017-0487-5.


Background: Lemon (Citrus limon) is a flowing plant belonging to the Rutaceae family. Citrus plants constitute one of the main valuable sources of essential oil used in foods and medicinal purposes.

Methods: In this study, we assessed chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of C. limon essential oil (ClEO) with its preservative effect against Listeria monocytogenes inoculated in minced beef meat. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to identify the major components of the obtained ClEO. The antioxidant activities of this ClEO were determined according to the β-carotene bleaching assay, as well as by 2.2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity. For antimicrobial activity, agar well diffusion method was used and the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) as well as the minimum fungicidal concentrations (MFCs) were determined. The in situ effect of the ClEO was evaluated through physicochemical parameters (pH and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), as well as against L. monocytogenes in minced beef meat model.

Results: Twenty one components were identified in the ClEO and the two dominant compounds were limonene (39.74%) and β-Pinene (25.44%). This ClEO displayed an excellent DPPH scavenging ability with an extract concentration providing 50% inhibition (IC50) of 15.056 μg/ml and a strong β-carotene bleaching inhibition after 120 min of incubation with an IC50 of 40.147 μg/ml. The MICs varied from 0.039 to 1.25 mg/ml for Gram positive bacteria and from 0.25 to 2.5 mg/ml for Gram-negative bacteria. The meat preserving potential of ClEO was investigated against L. monocytogenes. ClEO successfully inhibited development of L. monocytogenes in minced beef meat. The application of ClEO at a 0.06 and 0.312 mg/g, may open new promising opportunities for the prevention of contamination from and growth of pathogenic bacteria, particularly L. monocytogenes, during minced beef meat storage at 4 °C. Additionally, during storage period, physicochemical values (pH and TBARS) were higher in control meat than treated meat with ClEO suggesting an efficient antioxidant activity of ClEO.

Conclusion: It was suggested that the ClEO may be a new potential source as natural antimicrobial and antioxidant agents applied in food systems and pharmaceutical industry.

Keywords: Antimicrobial activity; Antioxidant activity; Citrus limon; Essential oil; Listeria monocytogenes; minced beef meat.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Citrus / chemistry*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Food Preservatives / pharmacology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Red Meat / microbiology*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Food Preservatives
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • lemon oil