Growers and processors of USDA certified organic foods are in need of suitable organic antimicrobials. The purpose of the research reported here was to develop and test natural antimicrobials derived from an all-natural by-product, organic pecan shells. Unroasted and roasted organic pecan shells were subjected to solvent free extraction to produce antimicrobials that were tested against Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes serotypes to determine the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of antimicrobials. The effectiveness of pecan shell extracts were further tested using a poultry skin model system and the growth inhibition of the Listeria cells adhered onto the skin model were quantified. The solvent free extracts of pecan shells inhibited Listeria strains at MICs as low as 0.38%. The antimicrobial effectiveness tests on a poultry skin model exhibited nearly a 2 log reduction of the inoculated cocktail mix of Listeria strains when extracts of pecan shell powder were used. The extracts also produced greater than a 4 log reduction of the indigenous spoilage bacteria on the chicken skin. Thus, the pecan shell extracts may prove to be very effective alternative antimicrobials against food pathogens and supplement the demand for effective natural antimicrobials for use in organic meat processing.
Pecan shells are a by-product of the shelled pecan industry. By using a novel solvent free extraction system, we have produced antimicrobial compounds from these pecan shells. Antimicrobials from organic pecan shells may be suitable for use in organic meat processing.