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Combine monolaurin with traditional antimicrobials.

Antibiotic resistance has become a worldwide concern when trying to treat infections caused by a variety of organisms. There's a need for safe and effective antimicrobials that are not subject to resistance.

Consider monolaurin as a nontraditional antimicrobial agent. The extract from coconut has been generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. If combined with other antimicrobial agents, monolaurin can create an efficient hurdle against other microbes.

Monolaurin, also called monoglyceride of lauric acid and glycerol monolaurate, can kill many different kinds of microbes. This substance is produced by the esterization of lauric acid, either through artificial processes, or in the human body after lauric acid has been consumed. Monolaurin has been studied by the medical community because of its significant antimicrobial activity.

Human milk isn't often consumed by adults, but its monolaurin content plays a significant role in the development of the immune systems of babies. Not many foods naturally have monolaurin or lauric acid, but the compound is added to products to help stabilize them. For example, monolaurin's antimicrobial properties make it an excellent additive for cottage cheese and other foods that spoil easily. Still, the use of monolaurin by the food industry as a preservative is limited.

Chinese scientists examined the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative in products by combining the compound with commonly used antimicrobials at different concentrations. They tested the compound on bacterial strains, including E. coli, and on soy protein and water-soluble starch.

The investigators found that monolaurin, when combined with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), was effective against Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, but not against Staphylococcus aureus. However, when combined with nisin, monolaurin was synergistically effective against all three bacteria. The scientists also examined monolaurin's interaction with different food components and found that its antibacterial effectiveness was diminished by fat or starch, but not by protein.

This research will improve our knowledge of the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative in foods. It might be possible to use monolaurin in combination with some commonly used antimicrobials, such as nisin, sodium dehydroacetate or EDTA.

Further information. Fengqin Feng, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Zhejiang University, 866 Yuhangtang Rd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province 310058, China; phone: +86-571-88982163;

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Sep 1, 2017
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