Antimicrobial properties of common household spices on microbes cultured from two kitchen locations
(1) Commonwealth Charter Academy, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, (2) Classical Conversations, Easton, Massachusetts, (3) Palm Tree School, Fairfax, Virginia, (4) Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (5) Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
The number of bacterial infections in humans is rising, and a major contributor is foodborne illnesses, which affect a large portion of the population and result in many hospitalizations and deaths. Common household cleaners are an effective strategy to combat foodborne illness, but they are often costly and contain harmful chemicals. Thus, we sought to test the antimicrobial effectiveness of readily available, low cost, and relatively harmless spices (clove, nutmeg, astragalus, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic) on microbes cultured from refrigerator handles and cutting boards. We hypothesized that cutting boards would have microbes that were more resistant to spices given the properties that make them conducive to microbial growth, whereas the microbes cultured from refrigerator handles would be more prone to the antimicrobial effects of the spices. We found that clove, garlic, and nutmeg were able to completely prevent the growth of microbes from cutting boards. Clove and garlic also prevented microbial growth from refrigerator handle samples, but nutmeg only reduced the growth of these microbes over a week. Similarly, turmeric and cinnamon only reduced the growth of microbes over a week from both culture samples. Our results demonstrate long-lasting, antimicrobial effects of multiple spices that support their use as alternatives to common household cleaners.