Antimicrobial evaluation of red, phytoalexin-rich sorghum food biocolorant

Folachodé U.G. Akogou, Heidy M.W. Den Besten, A.P. Polycarpe Kayodé, Vincenzo Fogliano, Anita R. Linnemann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) extract is traditionally used as red biocolorant in West Africa to colour foods, among which wagashi, a soft cheese. This biocolorant is a source of the phytoalexin apigeninidin and phenolic acids, and users claim that it has preservative effects next to its colouring properties. If such a claim can be scientifically substantiated, it adds a valuable functional property to this natural red colorant, thereby increasing its potential applications in the food industry. Hence, the present study evaluated the antimicrobial properties of dye sorghum extracts using challenge tests in broth and wagashi as a model of a popular food application. The alkaline extract and hot aqueous extract were used for dyeing wagashi by 87.7% and 12.3% of the traders, respectively. The dyeing procedure is perceived as a preservation strategy, and is also a means to maximise the revenues. However, results demonstrated that the application of sorghum biocolorant on wagashi had no inhibitory effect on the growth of fungi (Penicillium chrysogenum, Cladosporium macrocarpum) and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Furthermore, sorghum biocolorant in broth had no effect on growth of Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Consequently, the commonly used extracts for colouring soft West-African cheese did not show a preservative effect. In addition, dyeing did not affect the physico-chemical properties of wagashi. Still, the red colour hampered visual detection of microbial growth, thus clarifying the preservative effect reported by users.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0194657
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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