The aim of this study was to determine the antimicrobial efficacy of curcumin, one of the active components of the Curcuma longa (turmeric) plant, against food pathogens in a minced meat medium. Salmonella Typhimurium ATCC 14028, Listeria monocytogenes ATCC 7644, Escherichia coli O157:H7 ATCC 33150 and S. aureus ATCC 25923 strains were used as food pathogens. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were determined using the macrodilution method. MIC values for curcumin were found to be 125 mu g/ml for L. monocytogenes and S. aureus, and 250 mu g/ml for S. Typhimurium and E. coli O157: H7. Food pathogens were added to the minced meat at 104 CFU/g (including the control group) and curcumin at doses of 0.5%, 1% and 2% (except the control). The curcumin-supplemented minced meat and control were analysed 0-7 days later. At the end of seven days, it was seen that the 2% dose of curcumin had lowered L. monocytogenes and S. aureus counts by approximately 3 log CFU/g, and E. coli O157: H7 and S. Typhimurium counts by approximately 2 log CFU/g; the 1% dose had lowered L. monocytogenes, S. aureus, E. coli O157: H7 and S. Typhimurium counts by approximately 2 log CFU/g; and that the 0.5% curcumin dose had lowered L. monocytogenes and S. aureus count by approximately 2 log CFU/g, and E. coli O157: H7 and S. Typhimurium count by approximately 1 log CFU/g. Changes in bacterial counts were found to be statistically significant (P = 0.05). It was observed that antibacterial effect increased in direct proportion to dose, while sensory approval decreased. In this study, 0.5% and 1% curcumin doses were determined to be sensorily acceptable. It was concluded that, in view of the scientific benefits and antimicrobial efficacy of curcumin, it may be used instead of, or in smaller doses together with preservative additives in foods where colour change is not important.