Antifungal and sensorial properties of spices have been recognized for years. The antifungal compounds are products of the plant's secondary metabolism, and the action of those compounds could be used to inhibit the growth of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms in food. Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri) grows wildly in the desert zone of Mexico and is usually added to regional foods. The goal of this study was to evaluate the antifungal activity of Mexican oregano versus food-contaminant fungi. Fungi were isolated from spoiled fruit and vegetables and identified according to morphological characteristics. The antifungal activity of oregano was evaluated by radial growth measurement on potato dextrose agar added with dried oregano (0.25 to 4.0%). The essential oil antifungal activity of oregano was also evaluated by the diffusion well test. Twenty-one fungal strains were isolated, which included Penicillium, Geotrichum, Aspergillus, and Bipolaris. In seven of the 21 strains, no inhibitory effect was observed at either concentration of oregano. An increase in growth at the lower or higher concentrations of oregano, when compared to the control, was observed in two fungal strains; in 12 strains, a strong inhibitory effect of oregano was evident. The oregano essential oil was inhibitory to all fungal strains, but there were differences in the extent of the effect. Although the antifungal effect of oregano is strongly established, there was a differential effect with the fungal strains studied. Besides pathogenic fungi and bacteria, microbial spoilage flora should be considered when the addition of spices for food preservation is proposed.

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