Effects of allspice, cinnamon, and clove bud essential oils in edible apple films on physical properties and antimicrobial activities

J Food Sci. 2009 Sep;74(7):M372-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01282.x.


Essential oils (EOs) derived from plants are rich sources of volatile terpenoids and phenolic compounds. Such compounds have the potential to inactivate pathogenic bacteria on contact and in the vapor phase. Edible films made from fruits or vegetables containing EOs can be used commercially to protect food against contamination by pathogenic bacteria. EOs from cinnamon, allspice, and clove bud plants are compatible with the sensory characteristics of apple-based edible films. These films could extend product shelf life and reduce risk of pathogen growth on food surfaces. This study evaluated physical properties (water vapor permeability, color, tensile properties) and antimicrobial activities against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes of allspice, cinnamon, and clove bud oils in apple puree film-forming solutions formulated into edible films at 0.5% to 3% (w/w) concentrations. Antimicrobial activities were determined by 2 independent methods: overlay of the film on top of the bacteria and vapor phase diffusion of the antimicrobial from the film to the bacteria. The antimicrobial activities against the 3 pathogens were in the following order: cinnamon oil > clove bud oil > allspice oil. The antimicrobial films were more effective against L. monocytogenes than against the S. enterica. The oils reduced the viscosity of the apple solutions and increased elongation and darkened the colors of the films. They did not affect water vapor permeability. The results show that apple-based films with allspice, cinnamon, or clove bud oils were active against 3 foodborne pathogens by both direct contact with the bacteria and indirectly by vapors emanating from the films.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Clove Oil / chemistry
  • Clove Oil / pharmacology
  • Elasticity
  • Escherichia coli O157 / drug effects
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Packaging / instrumentation
  • Food Preservatives / chemistry
  • Food Preservatives / pharmacology*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects
  • Malus / chemistry*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Permeability
  • Pigmentation
  • Pimenta / chemistry
  • Salmonella enterica / drug effects
  • Tensile Strength
  • Viscosity


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Clove Oil
  • Food Preservatives
  • Oils, Volatile
  • cinnamon oil, bark