Turmeric can be used for making antibacterial surfaces for food processing, preparation and packaging and help in curbing E coli outbreak, according to a new research.
Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, forms a phenolic compound - a plant-based chemical compound. This curcumin compound contains naturally occurring properties that make it a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, the Southern Illinois University said in a statement.
This is not news in India, where curcumin is widely used as a medicinal herb.
Science, however, has confirmed that the phenolic compounds known as curcuminoids have health benefits and antimicrobial qualities, the university said releasing the results of a research carried by a group of its scientists led by Ruplal Choudhary, a food and bioprocess engineer and associate professor.
The study, published in the "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry," conducted with the aid of a USD 100,000 feasibility grant from the Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), included other compounds, such as resveratrol found in grapes and hydroxytyrosal found in olives.
Curcumin turned out to be the most effective antimicrobial compound.
In particular, the researchers tested the compound against E coli, and found curcumin to be highly effective.
With the aid of USD 300,000 in continued support from BARD, the team, including Punit Kohli, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and John Haddock, associate professor of microbiology, set out to use the curcumin compound to develop an antimicrobial surface.
They employed nanotechnology, a relatively new interdisciplinary science dealing in the realm of the very tiny - smaller-than-microscopic tiny.
According to the statement, the team built nanovesicles for the curcumin compound that adhere to and enclose the compound and bind it to glass and other surfaces.
These nano-coated surfaces, when used in food processing, preparation and storage, naturally kill microbes and prevent spoilage.
Despite the spicy origin of the compound, the nanotreated surface does not flavor the food that comes in contact with it.
Next, Choudhary wants to use the curcumin compound in active food packaging --- nanocoated packaging that extends the shelf life of fresh produce and other foods with natural antimicrobials and preservatives.