Dried plums - otherwise known as prunes - can have a powerful anti-microbial effect, according to new evidence from Kansas State University. Research by food microbiologist Daniel Fung has shown that prunes can help make meat products safer.
Fung tested the effect that varying levels of dried plum mixtures had on ground meat that was contaminated with common food-borne pathogens. The results show that that raw meats mixed with as little as three per cent of plum extract are over 90 per cent effective in suppressing the growth of major food-borne pathogens such as E. coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria, Y. enterocolitica and Staphylococcus.
This is not the first time that Fung has tested the anti-microbial effects of food extracts on meat. He has already looked at the effects of spices such as garlic and cinnamon, but said that the advantage of plum extract over the spices was that it did not flavour the meat.
Similar research conducted by scientists at Texas A&M University found that adding dried plum mixtures to raw meat improved the quality of reheated products by enhancing the moisture of the meat. Fung said adding dried plum mixtures to meat worked as an antioxidant to prevent lipid oxidation as well as being an anti-microbial agent to kill pathogens.
Fung said the plum extract could also enhance the moistness of meat and increase the yields, and added that he hoped to extend the research to other meats such as chicken and turkey. Future research will involve experiments to determine if plum extracts can extend the shelf life of meats as well, he added.