BACKGROUND: The use of aromatic plants and their extracts with antimicrobial properties may be compromised in the case of cheese, as some type of fungal starter is needed during its production. Penicillium verrucosum is considered a common cheese spoiler. The aim of this study was to evaluate the innovative use of certain aromatic plants as natural cheese covers in order to prevent mycotoxicogenic fungal growth (P. verrucosum). A collection of 12 essential oils (EOs) was obtained from various aromatic plants by solvent-free microwave extraction technology, and volatile characterisation of the EOs was carried out by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: The most effective EOs against P. verrucosum were obtained from Anethum graveolens, Hyssopus officinalis and Chamaemelum nobile, yielding 50% inhibition of fungal growth at concentration values lower than 0.02 µL mL−1. All EOs showed high volatile heterogeneity, with α-phellandrene, pinocamphone, isopinocamphone, α-pinene, camphene, 1,8-cineole, carvacrol and trans-anethole being found to be statistically significant in the antifungal model.
CONCLUSION: The use of these aromatic plants as natural covers on cheese can satisfactorily inhibit the growth of some mycotoxicogenic fungal spoilers. Among the volatile compounds present, α- and β-phellandrene were confirmed as the most relevant in the inhibition. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry