Technological watch

Antimicrobial Activity of Cobalt (II)-Citrate against Common Foodborne Pathogens and Its Potential for Incorporation into Food Packaging Material

Novel antimicrobial compounds can be added to foods directly or incorporated into packaging materials in order to improve food safety and shelf life. One such potential antimicrobial compound is the bioinorganic complex Co(II)-citrate (NH4)4[Co(C6H5O7)2] (Co-cit). Its antimicrobial activity against Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was investigated in solution, both alone and in combination with existing preservatives. The antimicrobial activity of poly(lactic acid) films (PLA) with incorporated Co-cit (23.3% w/w) against L. monocytogenes was determined using culture medium and model foods (slices of turkey ham and smoked salmon). In nutrient broth, without preservatives, all four bacteria were significantly (p < 0.05) inhibited by 0.5 mM Co-cit, and L. monocytogenes and P. aeruginosa were the most sensitive. The addition of preservatives to the broth increased the antimicrobial activity of Co-cit in many cases, but not in a way that was consistent between the different bacteria investigated and was likely due to additional physiological stress exerted on the cells rather than any effect on the activity of the Co-cit itself. PLA films with Co-cit were bacteriostatic against L. monocytogenes on artificial media and on foods. However, in the latter case, the PLA film itself was the main contributor to the inhibition. Composite PLA-(Co-cit) films exhibited antimicrobial activity against foodborne bacteria and have potential application as active packaging materials to enhance food safety.

Publication date: 26/10/2022

Author: Jonathan Rhoades

Reference: doi: 10.3390/app122110855

MDPI (applsci)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.