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To evaluate the effect of crude water-soluble arrowroot tea extracts on microbial growth of food-borne pathogens in liquid medium and to confirm the damage to bacterial cells using Transmission Electronic Microscopy (TEM).Inhibition of growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus was investigated using Brain Heart Infusion (BHI) broth containing 0 (control), 0·63, 1·25, 2·5 and 5·0% (w/v) arrowroot tea. Bacterial cell counts were performed on specific selective agar on days 0, 1, 3 and 5. BHI containing 5·0% arrowroot tea extract showed a 6–7 log suppression of growth for all test strains on days 3 and 5, compared with the control. Even 0·63% arrowroot tea effectively inhibited microbial growth of all test strains on day 5. TEM images of the samples treated with 5·0% arrowroot tea revealed the rupture of cell walls and nonhomogeneous disposition of cytoplasmic materials within treated bacteria.Crude water-soluble arrowroot tea extract strongly inhibited microbial growth of all test pathogens in liquid medium.Water-soluble arrowroot tea extract has the potential to be used directly on foods or as a spray on the surfaces of food handling and processing facilities in order to prevent microbial growth of both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.