Essential Oil Microemulsions Inactivate Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria on Iceberg Lettuce during 28-Day Storage at 4 °C

Stephanie Arellano, Libin Zhu, Govindaraj Dev Kumar, Bibiana Law, Mendel Friedman, Sadhana Ravishankar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial activities of essential oil-based microemulsions in the wash water against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Pseudomonas fluorescens on Iceberg lettuce. Evaluated wash microemulsions included oregano oil, lemongrass oil, and cinnamon oil, along with a plant-based emulsifier for improved solubility. Iceberg lettuce was inoculated for 2 min with E. coli O157:H7 (6.0 log CFU/g) or P. fluorescens (6.0 log CFU/g) and then dip-treated in a phosphate buffered saline (PBS) control, 50 ppm chlorine, 3% hydrogen peroxide treatment or a 0.1%, 0.3%, or 0.5% microemulsion solution. Treated leaves were stored at 4 °C, and analyzed for surviving bacteria on days 0, 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28. Efficacies of the antimicrobials were concentration and storage-time dependent. There was a 1.26–4.86 log CFU/g reduction in E. coli O157:H7 and significant reductions (0.32–2.35 log CFU/g) in P. fluorescens during storage at days 0–28 (p < 0.05). The 0.1% oregano oil microemulsion resulted in the best visual appeal in Iceberg leaves inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 and showed better improvement in the quality of the Iceberg leaves inoculated with spoilage bacteria P. fluorescens. The results suggest that 0.5% cinnamon and 0.3% oregano oil treatments have the potential to provide natural, eco-friendly, and effective alternatives to chemicals for the decontamination of leafy greens, eliminating E. coli O157:H7 and P. fluorescens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6699
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Escherichia coli O157:H7
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • antimicrobials
  • cinnamon oil
  • food safety
  • lemongrass oil
  • microemulsions
  • oregano oil
  • shelf-life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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