• Preserve Food? Use Essential Oils

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    Essential oils may be able to be used as food preservatives in packaging to help extend the shelf-life of food products, a new study suggests. Essential oils are aromatic oily liquids extracted from different parts of plants (roots, peels, leaves, seeds, fruits, barks) and have been shown to be a good source of antioxidative and antimicrobial properties.

    The review of the scientific evidence to date, published in the Journal of Food Science, looked at a range of essential oils noting their ability to fight bacteria and fungi which can spoil food. Amongst the most powerful essential oils were oregano and thyme –both rich in a substance called  carvacrol – and rosemary each of which had a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against both gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis) and gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) bacteria. Coriander was also found to be effective.

    More unusually they found antimicrobial activity from Callistemon comboynensis (cliff bottlebrush) essential oil against gram-positive (B. subtilis and S. aureus), gram negative (Proteus vulgaris and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), and the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans.

    Not all types of essential oils had such a broad spectrum of action. The researchers found evidence that Pseudomonas putida was resistant to carrot seed and parsley essential oils while E. …

    Essential oil incorporation into packaging may improve water vapor barrier properties of protein-based films, increase the strength of the film and resistance to stretching, decrease transparency, and help prevent food spoilage by interacting with the films other properties.

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