Consumers who buy organic products do not want synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, microbials or antioxidants in their food - they only want natural carcinogens - but that is a recipe for disaster and a key reason why so many foodborne outbreaks are related to organic products.

Science can help even those who deny her. A new paper in the Journal of Food Science shows it is possible to prevent listeria in such organic meats using extracts from pecan shells. Of course, the number of pecan shells is finite so the extract would have to be created scientifically for mass usage, but that is a problem for another time. For the new study, unroasted and roasted organic pecan shells were subjected to organic extraction processes to produce antimicrobials that were tested against Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes bacteria.

The effectiveness of pecan shell extracts were further tested using poultry skin to see how much these extracts inhibited bacterial growth of Listeria.

When this all-natural antimicrobial was tested on raw chicken skin it decreased the levels of pathogens by 100 times and at the same time reduced the levels of spoilage organisms by more than 1,000 times, thus greatly increasing the shelf life of the chicken.

The researchers concluded that the natural pecan shell extracts may prove to be an effective alternative antimicrobial against food pathogens and supplement the demand for organic antimicrobials.

Citation: Dinesh Babu, Philip G. Crandall, Casey L. Johnson, Corliss A. O'Bryan and Steven C. Ricke, 'Efficacy of Antimicrobials Extracted from Organic Pecan Shell for Inhibiting the Growth of Listeria spp.', 
Journal of Food Science pages M1899–M1903 26 NOV 2013  DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12311