"The search for new ways to keep packaged food from spoiling has led some scientists to essential oils, which can keep bacteria and mold at bay," said researcher Nilda de F.F. Soares.

Oils from clove and oregano have already been incorporated into edible films. But scientists still needed to optimise the effectiveness of these films and test them under real-life conditions for other uses.

The scientists bought preservative-free bread and placed slices in plastic bags with or without essential oil-infused edible films. To some slices, they added a commercial preservative containing calcium propionate.

After 10 days, the latter additive lost its effectiveness, but the edible films made with small droplets of the oils continued to slow mold growth, the study said.  

Essential oils have boomed in popularity as more people seek out alternatives to replace their synthetic cleaning products, anti-mosquito sprays and medicines. Now scientists are tapping them as candidates to preserve food in a more consumer-friendly way. The study appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


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