A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that essential oils may be able to be used as food preservatives in packaging to help extend the shelf-life of food products.
Essential oils are aromatic oily liquids extracted from different parts of plants (roots, peels, leaves, seeds, fruits, barks) and have been shown to be a good source of antioxidative and antimicrobial properties. Essential oils act as antioxidants in several different ways, such as free radical scavengers, termination of peroxides, prevent lipid oxidation (spoiling), and more.
Essential oil incorporation into packaging may improve water vapor barrier properties of protein-based films, increase the strength of the film and resistance to stretching, decrease transparency, and help prevent food spoilage by interacting with the films other properties.
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More information: Tongnuanchan, P. and Benjakul, S. (2014), "Essential Oils: Extraction, Bioactivities, and Their Uses for Food Preservation." Journal of Food Science, 79: R1231–R1249. DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12492