Washington: Cinnamon can not only tickle your taste buds, the ancient cooking spice is also an effective anti-bacterial agent and can help prevent some of the most serious food-borne illnesses caused by pathogenic bacteria, says a study.
Cinnamomum cassia oil can work effectively as a natural anti-bacterial agent in the food industry, the findings showed.
"The oil can be incorporated into films and coatings for packaging both meat and fresh produce," said Lina Sheng from the Washington State University.
"It can also be added into the washing step of meat, fruits or vegetables to eliminate micro-organisms," Sheng added.
In the study, the essential oil killed several strains of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E coli), known to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "non-O157 STEC."
The study looked at the top six strains of non-O157 STEC.
The cinnamon cassia oil is effective in low concentrations, Sheng said. About 10 drops diluted in a litre of water killed the bacteria within 24 hours.
Rising health concerns about chemical additives have strengthened demand for natural food additives, Meijun Zhu, an assistant professor at the Washington State University noted.
"Our focus is on exploring plant-derived natural food bioactive compounds as anti-microbials to control food-borne pathogens, in order to ensure safety of fresh produce," she added.
Cassia cinnamon is produced primarily in Indonesia and has a stronger smell than the other common cinnamon variety, Ceylon.
The study appeared online in the journal Food Control.