Essential Oils

The antimicrobial activities of extracts from several types of plants and plant parts used as flavoring agents in foods and beverages have been recognized for many years. Some of these essential oils have antifungal properties. Conner and Beuchat (1984) documented the effects of garlic and onion against yeasts and other investigators have shown these extracts to be inhibitory to molds. Alderman and Marth (1976) examined the effects of lemon and orange oils on Aspergillus flavus and found when the citrus oils were added to grapefruit juice or glucose yeast extract medium at concentrations of 3000-3500ppm, growth and aflatoxin production was suppressed. When orange oil was added to either medium at concentrations up to 7000 ppm, growth and aflatoxin production were greatly reduced although still evident. Recent publications have reported that the essential oils of anise, coriander, Roman chamomile, basil, and oregano were inhibitory to food and industrial yeasts (Chao et al. 2000; Elgayyar et al. 2001).

Herbs and spices are widely used to impart flavor to foods. It is generally accepted that certain herbs and spices have antimicrobial activity and may influence the keeping quality of food to which they have been added. However, they are not currently used with the primary purpose of providing a preservative effect.

Hoffman and Evans (1911) were among the earliest to describe the preservative action of cinnamon, cloves, mustard, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. They found that cinnamon, cloves, and mustard were most effective and ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper were least effective.

Bachman (1982) studied the effect of spices and their essential oils on growth of several test organisms, including

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