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Review
, 54 (5), 625-44

Plant Essential Oils as Active Antimicrobial Agents

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Review

Plant Essential Oils as Active Antimicrobial Agents

Yi Xin Seow et al. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.

Abstract

Essential oils derived from plants have been recognized for decades to exhibit biological activities, including antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial attributes. Antimicrobial activities of these natural plant materials have been intensively explored in recent years, mainly in response to the overwhelming concern of consumers over the safety of synthetic food additives. Gram-negative organisms are believed to be slightly less sensitive to essential oils than Gram-positive bacteria. Generally, a higher concentration is required to obtain the same efficacy in foods than in synthetic media. The combinations of different types of essential oils or with other food additives have been found to potentially exhibit synergistic if not additive effects. This suggests a cost-efficient and wholesome alternative to both food industry and consumers, at the same time adhering to the hurdle technology in inhibiting proliferation of foodborne pathogens. This review aims to examine the conventional methods commonly used for assessment of antimicrobial activities of essential oils and phytochemicals, the use of these substances as antimicrobials in food products, factors that affect their efficacy, synergism between components or with available food preservatives as well as the challenges and future directions of using essential oils and phytochemicals as natural food preservatives.

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