Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils and essences against five important food-borne pathogens

Lett Appl Microbiol. 1998 Feb;26(2):118-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1472-765x.1998.00303.x.


The antimicrobial properties of 21 plant essential oils and two essences were investigated against five important food-borne pathogens, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. The oils of bay, cinnamon, clove and thyme were the most inhibitory, each having a bacteriostatic concentration of 0.075% or less against all five pathogens. In general, Gram-positive bacteria were more sensitive to inhibition by plant essential oils than the Gram-negative bacteria. Campylobacter jejuni was the most resistant of the bacteria investigated to plant essential oils, with only the oils of bay and thyme having a bacteriocidal concentration of less than 1%. At 35 degrees C, L. monocytogenes was extremely sensitive to the oil of nutmeg. A concentration of less than 0.01% was bacteriostatic and 0.05% was bacteriocidal, but when the temperature was reduced to 4 degrees, the bacteriostatic concentration was increased to 0.5% and the bacteriocidal concentration to greater than 1%.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Salmonella enteritidis / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects


  • Oils, Volatile