13. Essential Oils for the Treatment of Fruit and Vegetables

  1. Vicente M. Gómez-López2,3
  1. Catherine Barry-Ryan and
  2. Paula Bourke

Published Online: 20 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118229187.ch13

Decontamination of Fresh and Minimally Processed Produce

Decontamination of Fresh and Minimally Processed Produce

How to Cite

Barry-Ryan, C. and Bourke, P. (2012) Essential Oils for the Treatment of Fruit and Vegetables, in Decontamination of Fresh and Minimally Processed Produce (ed V. M. Gómez-López), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118229187.ch13

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC, Murcia, Spain)

  2. 3

    Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnolog-a de Alimentos, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela

Author Information

  1. School of Food Science and Environmental Health, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 16 APR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780813823843

Online ISBN: 9781118229187



  • Essential oil;
  • antimicrobial;
  • natural preservative;
  • volatile


Fresh or minimally processed fruit and vegetables generally require a washing or sanitizing step to remove dirt, pesticide residues, microorganisms, and cell exudates that may support microbial growth. Plant essential oils are attracting interest for their potential as a possible horticultural decontaminant. They have generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status and display a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity, with potential for control of foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria associated with processed fruit and vegetables. Essential oils (EOs) also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These EOs are aromatic and volatile oily liquids obtained from plant material. The chemical structure of the individual EO components, solubility, and functional groups affects their antibacterial activity and mode of action, which may be the disruption of the cytoplasmic membrane or coagulation of cell contents. Adverse effects like tissue softening, enzymatic activity, moisture loss, or color changes could be controlled with careful selection of type and concentration of EO used. If EOs are to be as widely applied as natural antimicrobials, the organoleptic impact should also be considered.