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Chapter 33 : Chemical Preservatives and Natural Antimicrobial Compounds
Category: Applied and Industrial Microbiology; Food Microbiology
Antimicrobials are classified as traditional when they (i) have been used for many years, (ii) are approved by many countries for inclusion as antimicrobials in foods (e.g., lysozyme and lactoferrin, which are naturally occurring but regulatory-agency approved), or (iii) are produced by synthetic means (as opposed to natural extracts). Many organic acids are used as food additives, but not all have antimicrobial activity. Research suggests that the most active are acetic, lactic, propionic, sorbic, and benzoic acids. Acetic acid was the most effective antimicrobial in ground roasted beef slurries against Escherichia coli O157:H7 growth in comparison with citric or lactic acid. Sorbate is applied to foods by direct addition, dipping, spraying, dusting, or incorporation into packaging. The mechanism by which dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC) acts is most likely related to inactivation of enzymes. A related compound, diethyl dicarbonate, reacts with imidazole groups, amines, or thiols of proteins. Lysozyme is most active against gram-positive bacteria, most likely because the peptidoglycan of the cell wall is more exposed. The primary use for sodium nitrite as an antimicrobial is to inhibit Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin production in cured meats. Sulfites may be used to inhibit acetic acid-producing bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and spoilage bacteria in meat products. In the future, traditional food antimicrobials will continue to play an important role in food preservation.
Fate of an organic acid (RCOOH) in a low pH environment in the presence of a microbial cell.
Organic acids used as antimicrobial food preservatives.
Alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens).
Examples of antimicrobial compounds in spice essential oils.
Allicin (diallyl thiosulfinate; thio-2-propene-1-sulfinic acid-5-allyl ester).