Antimicrobial Activity

Although used in food preservation, ginger is not very effective in preventing spoilage of food due to microbial contamination and oxidative degradation. Ginger has only mild antimicrobial activity. The MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) of ginger against Clostridium botulinum (the bacterium that causes severe food poisoning) was shown to be about 2,000 fxg/ml. The ginger essential oil was shown to inhibit both cholera and typhoid bacteria. The components of oil responsible for this antimicrobial effect were shown to be gingerone and gingerol (Hirasa and Takemasa, 1998). Other studies reporting the antimicrobial properties of gingerols are in relation to Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli (Yamada et al., 1992) and Mycobacterium (Galal, 1996; Hiseradt et al., 1998).

Ginger stimulates appetite, acts as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiflatulant, and hence has a tremendous use in processed food products. Ginger has occupied the pride of place in many food products such as, for example, masala powders, curry mixes, ready-to-eat foods, and pastes.

Lists of processed foods, processed foods with specific actions, manufactured products, and a selection of dishes with ginger are provided in Appendix 15.1.

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