This work describes the effect of cold nitrogen plasma to enhance the antibacterial activity of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) nanofibers containing antibacterial agent. Beta-cyclodextrin (β-CD) and tea tree oil (TTO) were used as a host-guest to form water-soluble inclusion complex. The encapsulation efficiency of TTO in inclusion complex could reach 73.23% at 60°C. As antibacterial agent, the inclusion complex was encapsulated into PEO matrix by electrospun. After plasma treatment, the release efficiency of antibacterial agent from PEO nanofibers was improved. As a result, the antibacterial activity of PEO nanofibers was enhanced accordingly. The plasma-treated nanofiber membranes achieved the highest antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli O157:H7, which was tested on the beef for 7d, with inhibition efficiently of 99.99% whether at 4°C or 12°C. The plasma-treated PEO nanofiber membranes containing TTO/β-CD inclusion complex (TTO/β-CD-IC) can prolong the shelf-life of beef, suggesting it has potential application in active food packaging.
Keywords: Electrospun nanofibers; Escherichia coli O157:H7; Plasma; TTO/β-CD-IC.
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