Researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore discovered effective plant-based food preservative as compared to artificial preservatives
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds in plants, which are function to protect plants against pathogens, herbivores, pests, and extreme climatic conditions. The organic preservative comprise a naturally-occurring substance called as ‘flavonoids’, a diverse group of phytonutrients found in almost all fruits and vegetables. The flavonoids created by NTU scientists have strong anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, which inhibit bacterial growth and increase shelf life of food. Furthermore, the team is looking forward to communicate with multinational companies to develop the new food preservative. The findings of the study were published in scientific journal Food Chemistry in August 2018.
As a part of the study, experiment was conducted on meat and fruit juice samples, the organic preservative kept its samples fresh for two days without refrigeration, as compared to commercial-grade artificial food preservatives. The experiment was conducted at room temperature (about 23 degrees Celsius) where the other food samples with artificial preservatives succumbed to bacteria contamination within six hours.
Though flavonoids’ anti-microbial potential have been reported, they have not been used as a food preservative, as further processing is required before they can mitigate bacteria. This is known as ‘prenylation’ — a process involving the addition of hydrophobic molecules onto a protein to facilitate cell attachment — which is not cost-effective or sustainable. Furthermore, team plans to develop their findings with the food industry and enhance its efficacy and safety so that it can be used in all packaged food products, as artificial preservatives affect the body’s long-term growth and development.