It is said that almost 20% of food is spoiled every year. The food preservatives play a vital role in extending the shelf life of different food. However, there is a growing international concern of artificial preservatives due to the food safety issues worldwide.
Safety Concern on Artificial Preservatives
On July 23, 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an announcement expressing concerns used in food preservatives especially for meat products. Theses include nitrates and nitrites, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production that is essential for the regulation of metabolic process, and has also been linked with gastrointestinal and nervous system cancers.
Trend of Natural Preservatives with Clean Labels
Consumers are increasingly interested in where their products come from and how they’re made. According to Mintel GNPD, 68% of European consumers want to recognize ingredients on the libeling list and more than 40% in France and Germany are ready to pay 10% more for a product that claims ‘no additive, no preservative’. They are looking for natural alternatives and want to understand the composition of their food without compromising on safety and freshness.
Natural Plant-based Preservatives
Compared with synthetic preservatives, the natural preservative of plants can be used to meet expectations without causing harm to the human system.
Rosemary extracts have excellent antimicrobial
activities against a wide range of microorganisms, including Gram positive and
negative bacteria, yeasts and fungi. When they
are used in combination with other extracts, they may disable several or certain specific
vital biochemical mechanisms of microorganisms to result in impressive synergistic effect.
2. Kakadu Plum Extracts
In early 2016, researchers from Australia used kakadu plum to test its functions on prolonging the shelf life and retaining the color of prawn, which had achieved very good results. The researchers said that usually the shelf life for cooked prawn was 14 days, while the kakadu plum helped extend the shelf life for one week. This research has stimulated the market growth of kakadu plum and many manufacturers are using it to keep food freshness.
Tea polyphenols are known for the strong antioxidant effects. They also have good antimicrobial properties for staphylococcus, escherichia coli, bacillus subtilis, etc. Besides, they are protective for the food color, and can be used in various foods and beverages, such as cakes and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, meat products and edible oil storage, etc to extend the shelf life.
The main functional component of garlic, allicin, can kill and inhibit a variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses and is called a "natural broad spectrum plant germicidal agent". In addition to allicin, some volatile sulfide compounds in garlic also have antibacterial effects. Now, scientists have suggested that it could be a source for the natural preservatives.
Besides the above, more and more natural preservatives are being discovered and applied in the food industry, including Vitamin E, olive powder, quercetin, hibiscus flower extracts, etc. Though there are still challenges of developing natural solutions that are at least as efficient as the synthetic ones, and suitable for use on an industrial scale, the wave of natural ingredients and clean labels is unavoidable and will impact the global food market. Therefore, the plant-based natural preservatives will have great market potential in the upcoming years.
NTU scientists discover natural plant-based food preservative which is more effective than artificial ones