Purified ethanolic extracts of peeled and shredded carrots showed an antimicrobial effect against a range of food-borne micro-organisms. The minimum inhibitory concentration, expressed as mg ml-1 dried carrot material used for the extraction were: Leuconostoc mesenteroides, 27; Listeria monocytogenes, > 27 < 55; Staphylococcus aureus, > 27 < 55; Pseudomonas fluorescens, > 55 < 110; Candida lambica, > 55 < 110; Escherichia coli, > 110 < 220. The antimicrobial activity was not linked to phenolic compounds but was presumably due to apolar components. Free saturated fatty acid (dodecanoic acid) and methyl esters of saturated fatty acids (of dodecanoic and pentadecanoic acids) were identified in purified active extracts of carrots by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and could be responsible for the antimicrobial activity. This effect did not seem to play a role in the resistance of shredded carrots to microbial spoilage, although the antimicrobial activity was present in fresh carrots at concentrations sufficient to inhibit spoilage bacteria.