26. Essential Oils and Other Plant Extracts as Food Preservatives

  1. Rajeev Bhat3,
  2. Abd Karim Alias3 and
  3. Gopinadhan Paliyath4
  1. Thierry Regnier1,
  2. Sandra Combrinck1 and
  3. Wilma Du Plooy2

Published Online: 16 JAN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119962045.ch26

Progress in Food Preservation

Progress in Food Preservation

How to Cite

Regnier, T., Combrinck, S. and Du Plooy, W. (2012) Essential Oils and Other Plant Extracts as Food Preservatives, in Progress in Food Preservation (eds R. Bhat, A. Karim Alias and G. Paliyath), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119962045.ch26

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Food Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

  2. 4

    Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Chemistry, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa

  2. 2

    John Bean Technologies, South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Brackenfell, South Africa

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 JAN 2012
  2. Published Print: 10 FEB 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470655856

Online ISBN: 9781119962045



  • antimicrobial agent;
  • essential oil;
  • food preservatives;
  • food safety;
  • natural products;
  • post-harvest decay


The safety and management of food during its processing, transport and storage are prerequisites for modern food processing. Despite the worldwide development of new ranges of preservation techniques, the microbiological safety of meat, fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products, continues to be of major concern to both consumers and the food industry. Several outbreaks of foodborne pathogens during the last two decades have focused public attention on food safety. Environmental and human health concerns with regard to current practices involving synthetic compounds have further compelled the food industry to develop improved strategies. Natural products have been investigated as alternative biocides and antioxidants in an effort to rule out the use of synthetic preservatives, which are regarded as detrimental to health and the environment. Various applications of essential oils and plant extracts as natural antioxidants and antimicrobial agents have been reported and the use of such extracts have been validated by many researchers in several countries. This chapter describes the use of essential oils and other plant extracts as food preservatives, with emphasis on the fruit and vegetable post-harvest environment. The antifungal effects of these extracts on the control of fruit and vegetable pathogens are covered in detail. In addition, the application of plant extracts in the control of bacterial biofilms, which are more resistant than their planktonic counterparts to therapeutic intervention such as antibiotics, is also summarized. Finally, an overview regarding the importance of medicinal indigenous plants from developing countries as natural biocides and antioxidants is provided.