Plant natural preservatives refer to the plants or plant extracts that have a certain degree of preservative and antibacterial activity. At present, the main natural plant preservatives include: non-spice plant extracts, and natural spices & extracts.
Spices are one of the vital adjuvants added in meat products, primarily playing the role of removing fishy smell and enhancing aroma. In recent years, with in-depth study about natural spices and extracts, there have appeared reports confirming that as for some natural spices and extracts, they can inhibit the spoilage bacteria of meat products in addition to the basic function mentioned above. Also, they can slow down the occurrence of fading phenomenon of meat products to ensure consumer food safety.
In the course of research on the preservative function of spices, some studies have already proven that, the extracts of cinnamaldehyde, anethole, wild peach, apricot kernel oil, rosemary, garlic, ginger, Chinese prickly ash, clove, licorice, and black pepper all have definite preservative and antibacterial activity. These natural plant extracts can exert a strong inhibitory effect on staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, bacillus subtilis, Hansenula yeast, aspergillus niger, and penicillium.
It was found that the water-soluble volatile component of star anise shows broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, which turns out to be stronger than that of the oil phase portion of its volatile components. When mixed with different chemical preservatives, star anise essential oil can present apparently better antimicrobial results than the natural preservative itself alone, amongst which the binding of potassium sorbate and star anise essential oil expresses most significant antimicrobial potency.
Cinnamon oil as well manifests a strong antibacterial activity against the tested bacteria, yeast, and mold. While cinnamon extract can produce an inhibitory effect on various strains, outstripping potassium sorbate. Used together, they can create synergies to extend the fresh-keeping period of brine meat to about one week.
Besides, some Chinese herbal medicine and extracts with medicine and food homology not only own certain medicinal value, but also certain preservative and antibacterial functions, such as the ethanol extract of licorice, smoked plum, coptis chinensis, divaricate saposhniovia root, scutellaria, forsythia, honeysuckle, and herba lysimachiae. All these Chinese herbal drugs contain certain effective antibacterial ingredients, according to experts.
(By our own staff)