Insights from BCC Research

New Research Finds Avocado Extract Can Prevent Listeria In Food

Posted by Clayton Luz on Jan 17, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Growing consumer interest in healthier and more natural ingredients has fostered greater demand for food products formulated without synthetic additives. However, food still has to be safe for consumers to eat. Because some additives are needed for food safety reasons, food product developers are challenged with developing more "natural" additives that can produce comparable results.

Enter the avocado, long the darling of the produce section. Move over apple, the avocado now claims the top spot in America's fruit baskets. (Yes, it is a fruit, a large pear-shaped berry containing a single seed).
 
These dynamos are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. They're good for you, in other words.
 
Avocados may be good for the food industry, too. A recent study found that extracts and isolated compounds from avocado seeds offer potential as a natural additive incorporated into ready-to-eat foods to control microbes that cause Listeria, a foodborne bacterial illness.
 
THE DANGERS OF LISTERIA
 
Listeriosis is food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, notes WebMD.
 
The infection can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
 
The food safety aspect has taken on more importance in recent years, as consumers have experienced an increasing number of incidents of health risks from eating particular food products or foods with particular additives. Many of these scares took place in the past decade and concerned Sudan red, melamine, azodicarbonamide (ADA), and commercial peanut paste.
 
According to the web site Food Safety News, Listeria has been implicated in numerous food recalls, including that of food products made with avocados. As recently as this November, a company announced a voluntary recall of its certain hummus products due to possible health risks.
 
According to Jason Chen, an analyst with BCC Research, consumer concern over the global nature of food products continues to mount.
 
"No longer can a consumer only get foodstuffs and food products produced in a particular country, which meant, for example, that fresh produce was only available in the summer," Chen says. "These days, a large number of U.S. food products are imported, not only from countries like Chile, where the seasons are reversed, but also increasingly from China and other developing nations, whose standards of cleanliness and safety are often lower than those in the U.S. and other developed nations. While the goal is to make food products safe and more convenient, these products also increasingly strive to be more “natural” and contain fewer chemicals."
 
EXTRACT FROM AVOCADO SEEDS PROVIDE ANTIMICROBRIAL PROTECTION
 
Researchers from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico compared enriched acetogenin extract (EAE) from avocado seeds with two name-brand synthetic antimicrobials. They found that the EAE presented similar listeria-properties and chemical profiles to the synthetic antimicrobials.
The EAE was effective at 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and at a refrigeration temperature of 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
 
While humans already consume actetogenins from avocado pulp that are above antilisterial levels, bioavailability and safety of the extracts from avocado seeds need further assessment.
 
Avocado seeds are a waste product of the food industry, and these results offer a value-added, sustainable opportunity for manufacturers, the researchers claim.
 
The study was published in the Journal of Food Science. 

Topics: Food and Beverage