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Antimicrobial Actions Of Degraded And Native Chitosan Against Spoilage Organisms In Laboratory Media And Foods

J. Rhoades, S. Roller

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ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to determine whether chitosan (poly-β-1,4-glucosamine) and hydrolysates of chitosan can be used as novel preservatives in foods. Chitosan was hydrolyzed by using oxidative-reductive degradation, crude papaya latex, and lysozyme. Mild hydrolysis of chitosan resulted in improved microbial inactivation in saline and greater inhibition of growth of several spoilage yeasts in laboratory media, but highly degraded products of chitosan exhibited no antimicrobial activity. In pasteurized apple-elderflower juice stored at 7°C, addition of 0.3 g of chitosan per liter eliminated yeasts entirely for the duration of the experiment (13 days), while the total counts and the lactic acid bacterial counts increased at a slower rate than they increased in the control. Addition of 0.3 or 1.0 g of chitosan per kg had no effect on the microbial flora of houmous, a chickpea dip; in the presence of 5.0 g of chitosan per kg, bacterial growth but not yeast growth was substantially reduced compared with growth in control dip stored at 7°C for 6 days. Improved antimicrobial potency of chitosan hydrolysates like that observed in the saline and laboratory medium experiments was not observed in juice and dip experiments. We concluded that native chitosan has potential for use as a preservative in certain types of food but that the increase in antimicrobial activity that occurs following partial hydrolysis is too small to justify the extra processing involved.