Document Type : Review Article


Jimma University, College of Natural Science, Biology Department, Jimma, Ethiopia.



Natural food preservation method refers to application of naturally produced antimicrobial compounds that are obtained from plants, animals and microbes to prevent food spoilages microorganism, proliferation and growth of food borne pathogens in food and foods products. Now it is the time of growing interest of many researchers with the application of these natural antimicrobial compounds as safe replace instead of using chemical and physical food preservatives since it has many sides effects and causes health risks to the consumers. Antimicrobial compounds derived from plants products are considered to be an excellent source of natural food preservatives. Among preservatives, essential oils of some herbs and plants were traditionally used for the preservation of wide variety of foods. Antimicrobial substances such as bacteriocin, proteins or peptides secretions, bioactive molecules from plant have also been exploited in different ways for food preservation. Herbs and spices have been recognized to possess a broad spectrum of active constituents that exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and/or antiviral activities. Especially essential oils have been used for centuries as part of natural traditional medicine, to preserve food and different food products among locally community. They are aromatic oily liquids obtained from plant material (flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, twigs, bark, herbs, wood, fruits and roots). Natural antimicrobials compounds can be used alone or in combination with other novel preservation technologies to facilitate the replacement of traditional approaches and to reduce stiffness of using chemical and physical food preservatives. Research priorities and future trends should focusing on the impact of product formulation, intrinsic product parameters, and extrinsic storage parameters on the design of efficient food preservation systems are also presented. Therefore, the main objective of this review paper is to discuss industrial application of traditional medicinal plants as natural food preservatives in enhancing food shelf life.


Main Subjects

Abdalla, A.E.M., Darwish, S.M., Ayad, E.H.E., El-Hamahmy, R.M., 2007. Egyptian mango by-product antioxidant and
antimicrobial activities of extract and oil from mango seed kernel. Food Chem., 103(4), 1141-1152.
Abou-Dawood, S.A.I., 1999. Use of some spices in Ras and Roqueforti cheese making and its effects on mycotoxins
production. Ph.D. Thesis, Fac. of Agriculture, Cairo University, Egypt.
Abou-taleb, M., Kawai, Y., 2008. Shelf life of semi fried tuna slices coated with essential oil compounds after
treatment with anodic electrolyzed NaCl solution. J. Food Protect., 71(4), 770-774.
Adb-Alla, M.S., Atalla, K.M., Ghazi, I.M., Galal, E.A., 2000. Effect of some aqueous plant extracts on microbiological,
chemical and organoleptic properties of ultrafiltered cheese. Ann. Agr. Sci., 45, 409-420.
Andevari, G.T., Rezaei, M., 2011. Effect of gelatin coating incorporated with cinnamon oil on the quality of fresh
rainbow trout in cold storage. Int. J. Food Sci. Technol., 46, 2305-2311
Appendini, P., Hotchkiss, J.H., 2002. Review of antimicrobial food packaging. Inno. Food Sci. Emerg. Technol., 3,
Balasundram, N., Sundram, K., Samman, S., 2006. Phenolic compounds in plants and agri-industrial by-products:
Antioxidant activity, occurrence, and potential uses. Food Chem., 99(1), 191-203.
Barbosa-Canovas, G.V., Pothakamury, U.H., Palou, E., Swanson, B.G., 1997. Nonthermal Preservation of Foods;
Marcel Dekker: New York, 304p.
Bico, S.L.S., Raposo, M.F.J., Morais, R.M.S.C., Morais, A.M.M.B., 2009. Combined effects of chemical dip and/or
carrageenan coating and/or controlled atmosphere on quality of fresh-cut banana. Food Contr., 20, 508-514.
Bostan, K., Isin-Mahan, F., 2011. Microbiological quality and shelf-life of sausage treated with chitosan. J. Fac. Vet.
Med. Istanbul Univ., 37, 117-126.
Burt, S., 2004. Essential oils: Their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods: A review. Int. J. Food
Microbiol., 94(3), 223-253.
Burt, S.A., Der Zee, R.V., Koets, A.P., De Graaff, A.M., Van Knapen, F., Gaastra, W., 2007. Carvacrol induces heat
shock protein 60 and inhibits synthesis of flagellin in Escherichia coli O157:H7. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 73,
Cava, R., Nowak, E., Taboada, A., Marin-Iniesta, F., 2007. Antimicrobial activity of clove and cinnamon essential oils
against Listeria monocytogenes in pasteurized milk. J. Food Protect., 70(12), 2757-2763.
Conte, A., Scrocco, C., Sinigaglia, M., Del Nobile, M.A., 2007. Innovative active packaging systems to prolong the
shelf life of Mozzarella cheese. J. Dairy Sci., 90, 2126-2131.
Costa, C., Lucera, A., Mastromatteo, M., Conte, A., Del Nobile, M.A., 2010. Shelf life extension of durum semolinabased
fresh pasta. Int. J. Food Sci. Technol., 45, 1545-1551.
Cowan, M.M., 1999. Plant products as antimicrobial agents. Clin. Microbiol. Rev., 12(4), 564-582.
Cutter, C.N., 2006. Opportunities for bio-based packaging technologies to improve the quality and safety of fresh
and further processed muscle foods. Meat Sci., 74(1), 131-142.
Davidson, P.M., Taylor, M.T., 2007. Chemical preservatives and natural antimicrobial compounds, in food
microbiology: Fundamentals and frontiers, eds Doyle, P., Beuchat, L.R., Montville, T.J., editors. (Washington,
DC: American Society forMicrobiology Press; ), 713-734.
Del Nobile, M.A., Di Benedetto, N., Suriano, N., Conte, A., Corbo, M.R., Sinigaglia, M., 2009b. Combined effects of
chitosan and MAP to improve the microbial quality of Amaranth homemade fresh pasta. Food Microbiol., 26,
Del Nobile, M.A., Di Benedetto, N., Suriano, N., Conte, A., Lamacchia, C., Corbo, M.R., Sinigaglia, M., 2009a. Use of
natural compounds to improve the microbial stability of Amaranth-based homemade fresh pasta. Food
Microbiol., 26, 151-156.
Diez, A.M., 2009. Effectiveness of combined preservation methods to extend the shelf life of Morcilla de Burgos.
Meat Sci., 81(1), 171-177.
Dorman, H.J.D., Deans, S.G., 2000. Antimicrobial agents from plants: Antibacterial activity of plant volatile oils. J.
Appl. Microbiol., 88, 308-316.
El-Nemer, T.M., Awad, S.M., Ali, A.H., 2003. Increasing of probiotic and therapeutic action in Karish cheese using
toluene balsam extract. Egypt. J. Food Sci., 31(10), 213-221.
El-Nemer, T.M., Awad, S.M., Ali, A.H., 2004. Cheese whey and skimmed milk as a base for probiotic dairy
fermented products supplemented with some herb oils. Proceeding of the 9th Egyptian Conference Dairy
Science and Technology, 103-115.
Farkas, J., 2007. Physical methods of food preservation, in food microbiology: Fundamentals and frontiers, eds.
Doyle, P., Beuchat, L.R., Montville, T.J., editors. (Washington, DC: American Society for Microbiology Press)
Fratianni, F., De Martino, L., Melone, A., De Feo, V., Coppola, R., Nazzaro, F., 2010. Preservation of chicken breast
meat treated with thyme and balm essential oils. J. Food Sci., 75, 528-535.
Gram, L., Dalgaard, P., 2002. Fish spoilage bacteria-problems and solutions. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 13, 262-266.
Gurtler, J.B., 2011. Pulsed electric field inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 and non-pathogenic surrogate E. coli in
strawberry juice as influenced by sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and citric acid. Food Contr., 22(10),
Gutierrez, J., Barry-Ryan, C., Bourke, P., 2008. The antimicrobial efficacy of plant essential oil combinations and
interactions with food ingredients. Int. J. Food Microbiol., 124, 91-97.
Gutierrez, J., Barry-Ryan, C., Bourke, P., 2009. Antimicrobial activity of plant essential oils using food model media:
Efficacy, synergistic potential and interaction with food components. Food Microbiol., 26, 142-150.
Gutiérrez, L., Batlle, R., Andújar, S., Sánchez, C., Nerín, C., 2011. Evaluation of antimicrobial active packaging to
increase shelf life of gluten free sliced bread. Pack. Technol. Sci., 24, 485-494.
Hammer, K.A., Carson, C.F., Riley, T.V., 1999. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. J. Appl.
Microbiol., 86(6), 985-990.
Hanušová, K., Dobiáš, J., Klaudisová, K., 2009. Effect of packaging films releasing antimicrobial agents on stability of
food products. Czech J. Food Sci., 27, 347-349.
Hayouni, E.A., Bouix, M., Abedrabba, M., Leveau, J.Y., Hamdi, M., 2008. Mechanism of action of Melaleuca
Armillaris (Sol. Ex Gaertu) Sm. essential oil on six lab strains as assessed by multi parametric flow cytometry
and automated microtiter-based assay. Food Chem., 111(3), 707-718.
Hosny, I.M., El Kholy, W.I., Murad, H.A., El Dairouty, R.K., 2011. Antimicrobial activity of Curcumin upon pathogenic
microorganisms during manufacture and storage of a novel style cheese “Karishcum”. J. Am. Sci., 7, 611-618.
Hussien, G.A.M., 2004. Manufacture of flavoured Tallaga cheese. Proceeding of the 9th Egyptian Conference Dairy
Science and Technology, 277-284.
Hyldgaard, M., Mygind, T., Meyer, R.L., 2012. Essential oils in food preservation: mode of action, synergies, and
interactions with food matrix components. Front. Microbiol., 3(1), 1-24.
Kalogeropoulos, N., Konteles, S.J., Troullidou, E., Mourtzinos, I., Karathanos, V.T., 2009. Chemical composition,
antioxidant activity and antimicrobial properties of propolis extracts from Greece and Cyprus. Food Chem.,
116, 452-461.
Krisch, J., Pardi, Z., Tserennadmid, R., Papp, T., Vágvölgyi, C., 2010. Antimicrobial effects of commercial herbs,
spices and essential oils in minced pork. Acta Biol. Szeged., 54, 131-134.
Kwon, Y.I., Apostolidis, E., Labbe, R.G., Shetty, K., 2007. Inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus by phenolic
phytochemicals of selected clonal herbs species of Lamiaceae family and likely mode of action through
proline oxidation. Food Biotechnol., 21(1), 71-89.
Latif, A., Masood, T., Khan, H.A., 2005. Quality improvement and shelf life extension of bread. J. Agr. Soc. Sci., 1,
Lis-Balchin, M., Steyrl, H., Krenn, E., 2003. The comparative effect of novel Pelargonium essential oils and their
corresponding hydrosols as antimicrobial agents in a model food system. Phytother. Res., 17, 60-65.
Lòpez-Malo, A., Maris Alzamora, S., Palou, E., 2005. Aspergillusflavus growth in the presence of chemical
preservatives and naturally occurring antimicrobial compounds. Int. J. Food Microbiol., 99, 119-128.
Mahmoud, B.S.M., Kawai, Y., Yamazaki, K., Miyashita, K., Suzuki, T., 2007. Effect of treatment with electrolyzed
NaCl solutions and essential oil compounds on the proximate composition, amino acid and fatty acid
composition of carp fillets. Food Chem., 101(4), 1492-1498.
Manach, C., 2004. Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 79(5), 727-747.
Mangena, T., Muyima, N.Y.O., 1999. Comparative evaluation of the antimicrobial activities of essential oils of
Artemisia afra, Pteroniaincana and Rosemarinus officinalis on selected bacteria and yeast strains. Lett. Appl.
Microbiol., 28, 291-296.
Marino, M., Bersani, C., Comi, G., 2001. Impedance measurement to study antimicrobial activity of essential oils
from Lamiaceae and Compositae. Int. J. Food Microbiol., 67, 187-195.
Naveena, B.M., Muthukumar, M., Sen, A.R., Babji, Y., Murthy, T.R.K., 2006. Improvement of shelf-life of buffalo
meat using lactic acid, clove oil and vitamin C during retail display. Meat Sci., 74, 409-415.
No, H.K., Meyers, S.P., Prinyawiwatkul, W., Xu, Z., 2007. Application of chitosan for improvement of quality and
shelf life of foods: A review. J. Food Sci., 72, 100-187.
Ntzimani, A.G., Giatrakou, V.I., Savvaidis, I.N., 2010. Combined natural antimicrobial treatments (EDTA, lysozyme,
rosemary and oregano oil) on semi cooked coated chicken meat stored in vacuum packages at 4°C:
Microbiological and sensory evaluation. Innov. Food Sci. Emerg. Technol., 11, 187-196.
Ojagh, S.M., Rezaei, M., Razavi, S.H., Hosseini, S.M.H., 2010. Effect of chitosan coatings enriched with cinnamon oil
on the quality of refrigerated rainbow trout. Food Chem., 120, 193-198.
Ozkan, G., Simsek, B., Kuleasan, H., 2007. Antioxidant activities of Satureja cilicica essential oil in butter and in
vitro. J. Food Eng., 79(4), 1391-1396.
Pires, A.C.S., Soares, N.F.F., Andrade, N.J., Silva, L.H.M., Camilloto, G.P., Bernardes, P.C., 2009. Increased
preservation of sliced mozzarella cheese by antimicrobial sachet incorporated with allylisothiocyanate. Braz.
J. Microbiol., 40, 1002-1008.
Ponce, A., del Valle, C., Roura, S., 2004. Shelf life of leafy vegetables treated with natural essential oils. J. Food Sci.,
69(2), 550-556.
Raybaudi-Massilia, R.M., Mosqueda-Melgar, J., Sobrino-Lòpez, A., Soliva-Fortuny, R., Martín-Belloso, O., 2009. Use
of malic acid and other quality stabilizing compounds to assure the safety of fresh-cut “Fuji” apples by
inactivation of Listeria Monocytogenes, Salmonella Enteritidis and Escherichia coli O157, H7. J. Food Saf., 29,
Rehman, S., Hussain, S., Nawaz, H., 2007. Inhibitory effect of citrus peel essential oils on the microbial growth of
bread. Pak. J. Nut., 6, 558-561.
Rydlo, T., Miltz, J., Mor, A., 2006. Eukaryotic antimicrobial peptides: promises and premises in food safety. J. Food
Sci., 71, 125-135.
Sánchez, E., García, S., Heredia, N., 2010. Extracts of edible and medicinal plants damage membranes of Vibrio
cholerae. J. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 76(20), 6888-6894.
Simionatto, E., Porto, C., Da Silva, U.F., Squizani, A.M.C., Dalcol, I.I., Morel, A.F., 2005. Composition and
antimicrobial activity of the essential oil from Aloysia sellowii. J. Br. Chem. Soc., 16, 1458-1462.
Singh, T.K., Drake, M.A., Cadwallader, K.R., 2003. Flavour of Cheddar cheese: A chemical and sensory perspective.
Comp. Rev. Food Sci. Food Saf., 2, 139-162.
Skandamis, P., Tsigarida, E., Nychas, G.J.E., 2002. The effect of oregano essential oil on survival/death of
Salmonella typhimurium in meat stored at 5°C under aerobic, VP/MAP conditions. Food Microbiol., 19, 97-
Soultos, N., Tzikas, Z., Abrahim, A., Georgantelis, D., Ambrosiadis, I., 2008. Chitosan effects on quality properties of
Greek style fresh pork sausages. Meat Sci., 80, 1150-1156.
Suhur, K.I., Nielsen, P.V., 2005. Inhibition of fungal growth on wheat and rye bread by modified atmosphere
packaging and active packaging using volatile mustard essential oil. Inst. Food Technol., 70, 37-44.
Yano, Y., Satomi, M., Oikawa, H., 2006. Antimicrobial effect of spices and herbs on Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Int. J.
Food Microbiol., 111(1), 6-11.
Yin, M.C., Chao, C.Y., 2008. Anti-Campylobacter, anti-aerobic, and anti-oxidative effects of roselle calyx extract and
protocatechuic acid in ground beef. Int. J. Food Microbiol., 127(1–2), 73-77.