How to use essential oils as a food preservative

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essential oil preservative(NaturalHealth365) Despite growing, double-blinded, placebo-controlled evidence eliciting the negative physiological effects of synthetic food preservatives, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to turn the proverbial cheek to harmful food additives.

In the meantime, scientists from the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, in Greece say move over synthetics – they’ve learned how to harness essential oils as a healthy food preservative.

Could essential oils help to transform our food supply?

In their study, thyme oil performed as the most efficient essential oil food preservative by eliminating bacteria within 60 minutes of use. Incorporating essential oils into food packaging was found to maintain water vapor barrier properties of protein-based films and assist in preventing food oxidation (spoilage).

In fact, the essential oils have the potential to act as free radical scavengers as well. According to Professor Samaras, the study author, “not only are essential oils a cheap and effective treatment option for antibiotic-resistant strains, but decreased use of antibiotics will help minimize the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging,”

Synthetic food preservatives can cause hyperactivity and immune disorders

A noteworthy British study, in Lancet, found that sodium benzoate used as a food additive or preservative posed too much of a risk for hyperactivity in children to go unnoted. Yet, the FDA still casually considers it safe when ‘properly’ used.

The same goes for approximately 50 additional synthetic additives and preservatives including MSG, aspartame, E330 and E300 citric acid, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. The use of essential oils via edible films has already been trialed successfully in several studies to help consumers reduce their risk of developing certain cancers, hyperactivity and other immunological concerns.

Researchers perfecting how to use essential oils as edible films

The films that were used in a recent 2014 study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry containing oregano and clove oil were able to preserve bread longer than common commercial additives. Bread was chosen given its global popularity as a food-stuffs mainstay. The films were tested after ten days and the essential oil used, as a food preservative, were shown to slow mold growth.

At this point, it’s time to say the obvious – whenever possible, always choose fresh foods.

While I am not an advocate of preserving foods past their natural shelf-life, these essential oil films could offer widespread application reducing food waste while slowing the production of synthetic additives. Reducing synthetic additive and preservative production offers a positive environmental impact by decreasing pollution that results from the manufacturing process as well.

By the way, watch out for foods that have been pre-cut – because they create more surface area to invite microbial agents into; posing a risk to your immune system. Until the films hit the shelves here in the states, choose whole foods over foods that have been ‘convenience-sliced’ and prepared such as cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, epigenetics, food therapy and sustainable living.


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  • Harvey Syder

    The use of chemical food preservatives is a business and a profitable one. Consumers are now pressuring companies to remove artificial preservatives.Kraft Food Group announced it has removed
    artificial preservatives from its Kraft Singles individually wrapped
    cheese slices.

    Panera Bread is the latest company to say goodbye to artificial ingredients in their food including preservatives. It looks like the public has a say in what they want or don’t want in their food.

  • LynO

    Yes, your jaw would drop if you knew how we oilies use YLTG essential oils in our every day lives. Use Lemon oil in a sink of water, soak all fruits & vegis for 15 minutes or so. Kills pathogens and keeps mold away, preserves. Eat and enjoy!

  • Parker Kerman

    LyneO, lemon oil and all citrus oils have so many uses. They are the original preservatives and were used a generation ago. We have lost our way when we looked beyond nature to fill our every need.