ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was the evaluation of the effects of pure citral and citron essential oil on microbial spoilage and growth and survival of pathogenic microorganisms during storage. They were added in the syrup of industrial ready-to-eat fruit salads stored at 9 °C. Both citral (25 to 125 ppm) and citron essential oil (300, 600, 900 ppm) were able to prolong the microbial shelf life of the fruit-based salads. The essential oil gave excellent results, avoiding the undesirable effects attributable to the cytotoxicity of citral. Citron essential oil doubled the time needed for the wild microflora to reach concentrations able to produce a perceivable spoilage in condition of thermal abuse (9 °C). The same essential oil had reduced effects on the survival of Gram-negative species Salmonella Enteritidis and Escherichia coli, but showed a strong inhibition toward the Gram-positive pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.