Antibacterial effects and microbial quality of commonly consumed herbs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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International Food Research Journal


© All Rights Reserved. Herbal plants are traditionally known to exhibit antimicrobial properties and used in several countries as an alternative to modern pharmaceutical drugs. This study investigated the antibacterial properties and microbial quality of common herbs used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In total, 20 herb samples of parsley (Petroselinum crispum), basil (Ocimum basilicum), sage (Salvia officinalis), mint (Mentha spicata), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) were randomly collected and analysed for the total aerobic bacteria count, yeasts and molds, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa by standard plate counting method using selective and differential culture media. Antibacterial effects of herbs on E.coli, S. aureus, Salmonella and P. aeruginosa were tested by disk diffusion method. The microbial analysis of herbs revealed that 50% of herb samples exceeded the world health organization (WHO) limit for the total aerobic bacteria count, and 75% exceeded the permissible limit for total molds and yeast count. 75% of herb samples were found contaminated with Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp, 65% with Shigella, and 10% exceeded the WHO permissible limit for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, all herb samples were found to be within the WHO acceptable limit for Staphylococcus aureus. All herbal extracts exhibited some form of antibacterial activity against E. coli, S. aureus, Salmonella and P. aeruginosa except for parsley, which had no inhibitory effect on S. aureus. However, the results of microbial quality suggest that most of the analysed herbs had unsafe microbial contamination that exceeded the World Health Organization permissible limits. Therefore, strict measures to reduce the risk of microbial contamination by applying Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) need to be implemented on local and imported herbs prior to consumption.

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