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Monolaurin May Be a Weapon Against Food Bacteria

Monolaurin, an extract from coconut oil could be used as a microbial agent in foods, according to a study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Monolaurin has been recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is known for its antimicrobial properties. If used in combination with other antimicrobial agents, monolaurin can present an effective barrier to microorganisms.

Researchers from Zhejiang University in China studied the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative in food products by combining it with commonly used antimicrobials in various concentrations and testing it on bacterial strains including Esherichia coli and on food components such as soy protein and water-soluble starch. Researchers made the following findings:

• Monolaurin combined with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA),a binding agent, was effective against Esherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis but not Staphylococcus aureus.

• When combined with the antimicrobial nisin, monolaurin was synergistically effective against all three bacteria.

• Researchers studied monolaurin’s interaction with food components and found that its antibacterial effectiveness was reduced by fat or starch but was not affected by protein.

“These results contribute to a better understanding on the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative for antimicrobial purpose in food products. The antimicrobial effects of monolaurin can be increased if used together or in combination with other preservative systems,” says lead researcher

Hui Zhang.

To receive a copy of the study, please contact Jeannie Houchins at

About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) exists to advance the science of food. Our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere. Founded in 1939, IFT is a nonprofit scientific society with 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT champions the use of sound science across the food value chain through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy, encouraging the exchange of information, providing both formal and informal educational opportunities, and furthering the advancement of the profession.

Jeannie Houchins | Newswise Science News
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