Essential oils: Mode of antimicrobial activityand potential application in food systems
Trend of production and use of healthy safe food without synthetic chemical compounds is becoming more and more emphasized, thus consumers increasingly require the use of natural products, the so-called “green chemicals“. The food industry is driven with the trend towards “Green Consumerism“ gradually incorporating natural antimicrobials from plant or microbial sources into food products to replace the more traditionally used synthetic chemical preservatives.
Taking into account that medicinal plants are generally considered as the most important source of natural antimicrobial agents, this review will summarize the published data on the antibacterial activity of those essential oils and their components that could be considered suitable for application in/on foods. Antimicrobial activity mechanisms of some natural antimicrobial compounds will be also highlighted.
Essential oils (EOs) are aromatic and volatile liquids obtained from plant material, such as flowers, roots, bark, leaves, seeds, peel, fruits, wood, and whole plant, mainly by steam distillation. They usually contain between twenty and sixty, but sometimes even more than sixty individual components.
The concentration of components is quite different, and major components can constitute up to 85% of the EOs, while other components can be found only in traces. These major components usually determine the biological properties of the EOs. The most common components with antibacterial properties of a number of EOs are presented in Table 1.
The chemical composition, as well as the content of EO in aromatic plants, are subjected to seasonal variations and depend on phenophase of plant. In addition to the development phase of the plant, chemical composition and content of EO can be under an impact of geographical origin, climate, plant material collection time and the technique of distillation (1).
Essential oil constituents are a diverse family of low molecular weight org ...