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      Essential oils: A promising eco-friendly food preservative

      , , ,
      Food Chemistry
      Elsevier BV

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          Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods--a review.

          In vitro studies have demonstrated antibacterial activity of essential oils (EOs) against Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella dysenteria, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus at levels between 0.2 and 10 microl ml(-1). Gram-negative organisms are slightly less susceptible than gram-positive bacteria. A number of EO components has been identified as effective antibacterials, e.g. carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, perillaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, having minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of 0.05-5 microl ml(-1) in vitro. A higher concentration is needed to achieve the same effect in foods. Studies with fresh meat, meat products, fish, milk, dairy products, vegetables, fruit and cooked rice have shown that the concentration needed to achieve a significant antibacterial effect is around 0.5-20 microl g(-1) in foods and about 0.1-10 microl ml(-1) in solutions for washing fruit and vegetables. EOs comprise a large number of components and it is likely that their mode of action involves several targets in the bacterial cell. The hydrophobicity of EOs enables them to partition in the lipids of the cell membrane and mitochondria, rendering them permeable and leading to leakage of cell contents. Physical conditions that improve the action of EOs are low pH, low temperature and low oxygen levels. Synergism has been observed between carvacrol and its precursor p-cymene and between cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. Synergy between EO components and mild preservation methods has also been observed. Some EO components are legally registered flavourings in the EU and the USA. Undesirable organoleptic effects can be limited by careful selection of EOs according to the type of food.
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            Biological effects of essential oils--a review.

            Since the middle ages, essential oils have been widely used for bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal, antiparasitical, insecticidal, medicinal and cosmetic applications, especially nowadays in pharmaceutical, sanitary, cosmetic, agricultural and food industries. Because of the mode of extraction, mostly by distillation from aromatic plants, they contain a variety of volatile molecules such as terpenes and terpenoids, phenol-derived aromatic components and aliphatic components. In vitro physicochemical assays characterise most of them as antioxidants. However, recent work shows that in eukaryotic cells, essential oils can act as prooxidants affecting inner cell membranes and organelles such as mitochondria. Depending on type and concentration, they exhibit cytotoxic effects on living cells but are usually non-genotoxic. In some cases, changes in intracellular redox potential and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by essential oils can be associated with their capacity to exert antigenotoxic effects. These findings suggest that, at least in part, the encountered beneficial effects of essential oils are due to prooxidant effects on the cellular level.
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              Essential Oils in Food Preservation: Mode of Action, Synergies, and Interactions with Food Matrix Components

              Essential oils are aromatic and volatile liquids extracted from plants. The chemicals in essential oils are secondary metabolites, which play an important role in plant defense as they often possess antimicrobial properties. The interest in essential oils and their application in food preservation has been amplified in recent years by an increasingly negative consumer perception of synthetic preservatives. Furthermore, food-borne diseases are a growing public health problem worldwide, calling for more effective preservation strategies. The antibacterial properties of essential oils and their constituents have been documented extensively. Pioneering work has also elucidated the mode of action of a few essential oil constituents, but detailed knowledge about most of the compounds’ mode of action is still lacking. This knowledge is particularly important to predict their effect on different microorganisms, how they interact with food matrix components, and how they work in combination with other antimicrobial compounds. The main obstacle for using essential oil constituents as food preservatives is that they are most often not potent enough as single components, and they cause negative organoleptic effects when added in sufficient amounts to provide an antimicrobial effect. Exploiting synergies between several compounds has been suggested as a solution to this problem. However, little is known about which interactions lead to synergistic, additive, or antagonistic effects. Such knowledge could contribute to design of new and more potent antimicrobial blends, and to understand the interplay between the constituents of crude essential oils. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of current knowledge about the antibacterial properties and antibacterial mode of action of essential oils and their constituents, and to identify research avenues that can facilitate implementation of essential oils as natural preservatives in foods.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Food Chemistry
                Food Chemistry
                Elsevier BV
                03088146
                November 2020
                November 2020
                : 330
                : 127268
                Article
                10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.127268
                32540519
                606f1f95-03e8-4d4b-a843-e15e08fc6415
                © 2020

                https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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