Edible 'apple film wraps' may be the next big thing in the food processing industry, after a study led by an Indian-origin researcher revealed that these can protect meat and poultry products from foodborne pathogens.
Researchers from the University of Arizona used arvacrol and cinnamaldehyde in apple-based films, which showed promise in offering protection against Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes.
"The use of edible antimicrobial films offers several consumer advantages, including prevention of moisture loss, control of dripping juices-which reduces cross contamination-reduction of rancidity and discoloration, and prevention of foreign odour pick-up," said lead researcher Sadhana Ravishankar.
Carvacrol is the main ingredient of oregano oil, and cinnemaldehyde is the main ingredient of cinnamon oil.
The study revealed that carvacrol was a stronger antimicrobial agent against both Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 than cinnamaldehyde on the chicken breast at 4º C.
At 23º C, S. enterica population reductions were similar for both carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde but higher for carvacrol against E. coli O157:H7.
Carvacrol was also a stronger antimicrobial agent against L. monocytogenes than cinnamaldehyde on ham at 4º C and 23º C.
It also showed that the antimicrobials containing apple films were also effective against the natural microflora present on raw chicken breast.
"Our findings provide a scientific rationale for large-scale application of apple-based antimicrobial films to improve microbial food safety," said Ravishankar.
The study appears in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.