Chili peppers are used worldwide in foods for their pungent flavor, aroma and to prolong food spoilage. With capsaicin contents ranging from zero to millions of Scoville heat units, different varieties offer a wide range of options for people all over the world. Morrine Omolo is studying those options.
“In addition to their use in cuisines, chili peppers have been explored for their antimicrobial and antifungal properties,” she says. “Consequently, research is under way to determine the potential for the application of chili pepper extracts in the food industry in place of artificial preservatives.”
As new antibiotic-resistant food-borne pathogens emerge, the discovery of natural antimicrobials in chili peppers will be invaluable to food scientists. This lays the groundwork for testing emerging varieties of chili peppers for nutrient content, flavor profiles and for antimicrobial activities against numerous human pathogens.