Production and characterization of curcumin microcrystals and evaluation of the antimicrobial and sensory aspects in minimally processed carrots
Nontoxic conserving agents are in demand by the food industry due to consumers concern about synthetic conservatives, especially in minimally processed food. The antimicrobial activity of curcumin, a natural phenolic compound, has been extensively investigated but hydrophobicity is an issue when applying curcumin to foodstuff. The objective of this work was to evaluate curcumin microcrystals as an antimicrobial agent in minimally processed carrots. The antimicrobial activity of curcumin microcrystals was evaluated in vitro against Gram-positive (Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) microorganisms, showing a statistically significant (p < 0.05) decrease in the minimum inhibitory concentration compared to in natura, pristine curcumin. Curcumin microcrystals were effective in inhibiting psychrotrophic and mesophile microorganisms in minimally processed carrots. Sensory analyses were carried out showing no significant difference (p < 0.05) between curcumin microcrystal-treated carrots and non-treated carrots in triangular and tetrahedral discriminative tests. Sensory tests also showed that curcumin microcrystals could be added as a natural preservative in minimally processed carrots without causing noticeable differences that could be detected by the consumer. One may conclude that the analyses of the minimally processed carrots demonstrated that curcumin microcrystals are a suitable natural compound to inhibit the natural microbiota of carrots from a statistical point of view.