Public Release: 

Figs may inhibit growth and survival of harmful microbes in food

American Society for Microbiology

NEW ORLEANS - May 27, 2004 - New studies show that figs and figs extracts may be effective at inhibiting the survival and growth of harmful microbes in food. Researchers from North Carolina A&T State University present their findings today at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

For years, trees throughout Europe and the Mediterranean have been cultivated and fig extracts have been used to fight various ailments such as constipation, bronchitis, mouth disorders and wounds. Externally, they are found in the latex used in ridding patients of warts.

In the research presented today, Maysoun Salameh and colleagues examined the antimicrobial effect of figs extracts on the reduction and inhibition of microbial loads of the popular food contaminants, E.coli and Salmonella. Figs were sliced and blended into liquid after which strains of E.coli and Salmonella were added to the solution. After an incubation period of up to twenty-four hours, results showed a reduction in bacterial growth. Control samples not treated with fig juice revealed an increase in bacteria.

"These findings can be utilized by the food industry in the future by adding figs extracts, its original and/or modified liquid form, to processed foods," says Salameh. "Its active component can also be isolated into pure forms as natural food additives into many food products."

In a related study also presented today, another group of researchers from North Carolina A&T will present data illustrating the antimicrobial properties of guava extract and its potential use as an all natural food preservative.

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This release is a summary of a presentation from the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, May 23-27, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Additional information on these and other presentations at the 104th ASM General Meeting can be found online at http://www.asm.org/Media/index.asp?bid=27289 or by contacting Jim Sliwa (jsliwa@asmusa.org) in the ASM Office of Communications. The phone number for the General Meeting Press Room is (504) 670-4240 and will be active from 12:00 noon CDT, May 23 until 12:00 noon CDT, May 27.

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