Headline hype isn’t science: ‘Avocado can prevent Listeria in food’

High standards regarding Listeria monocytogenes control and consumer demands for food products without synthetic additives represent a challenge to food industry. We determined the antilisterial properties of an enriched acetogenin extract (EAE) from avocado seed, compared it to two commercial antimicrobials (one enriched in avocado acetogenins), and tested purified molecules.

avocado-pair-cob_16Acetogenin composition in pulp and seed of Hass avocado was quantified. EAE were obtained by two sequential centrifuge partition chromatography separations and molecules purified by preparative chromatography and quantified by HPLC-MS-TOF and HPLC-PDA. Avocado seed extracts which are the following two: 1) EAE and 2) the commercially available antimicrobial Avosafe®, presented similar inhibition zones and chemical profiles. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of extracts and two isolated acetogenins varied between 7.8 and 15.6 mg/L, were effective at 37 and 4 °C, and showed a bactericidal effect probably caused by increased membrane permeability and lytic effects, evidenced by flow cytometry at 10 and 100× MIC. Activity was comparable to Mirenat®. Most potent acetogenins were Persenone C (5) and A (6), and AcO-avocadenyne (1), the latter exclusively present in seed. Common features of bioactive molecules were the acetyl moiety and multiple unsaturations (2 to 3) in the aliphatic chain, some persenones also featured a trans-enone group. Seeds contained 1.6 times higher levels of acetogenins than pulp (5048.1 ± 575.5 and 3107.0 ± 207.2 mg/kg fresh weight, respectively), and total content in pulp was 199 to 398 times higher than MIC values.

Therefore, acetogenin levels potentially consumed by humans are higher than inhibitory concentrations. Results document properties of avocado seed acetogenins as natural antilisterial food additives.

Inhibitory activity of avocado seed fatty acid derivatives (acetogenins) against Listeria monocytogenes

Journal of Food Science, 21 November 2016, DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13553