Annatto preparations are used to impart distinctive flavor and color to foods and are a primary colorant in dairy foods such as cheese and butter. There are several reports indicating that certain fractions of the annatto plant have biologicalactivities against microorganisms of significance in food fermentation, food preservation, and human health. However, little is reported describing the nature of the antimicrobial compound(s) or their potential presence in commercial annatto colorant preparations. This study was conducted to determine whether commonly available annatto extracts are capable of influencing the outgrowth of selected lactic acid, spoilage, and pathogenic microorganisms. Disk diffusion and tube macrodilution techniques were used to determine the MICs and MBCs of double-strength water-soluble annatto extracts. Standard antibiotic disks were used as controls for the disk diffusion assay. The results demonstrate that annatto has an inhibitory effect on Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus aureus, with MICs of 0.08, 0.31, and 0.16% (vol/vol) and diameters of inhibition of 9 to 10, 12 to 13, and 15 to 16 mm, respectively. A concentration of 0.63% (vol/vol) inhibited the growth of Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus casei subsp. casei, Lactococcus lactis, and Paenibacillus polymyxa. The MICs for Listeria monocytogenes and Enterococcus durans were 1.25 and 2.5% (vol/vol), respectively. No activity was detected against Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, yeasts, or selected gram-negative bacteria.

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