Nanoencapsulation of Food Antimicrobial Agents and Essential Oils

Yue Zhang1*, Huaiqiong Chen2'* and Kang Pan3

University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States, 2Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, United States, 3Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States


Food antimicrobials are chemicals that stop or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, and are often used in combination with other preservation procedures to preserve a food (Davidson et al., 2013b). Nowadays, consumers demand for foods that are convenient to store and use and yet are “fresher,” “more natural,” and “minimally processed.” It has forced the food industry either modifying the existing preservation technologies to meet the requirements of consumers, or researching or applying new alternatives to replace the traditional synthetic antimicrobial substances. Moreover, the release of synthetic antimicrobial agents to environment such as sources of drinking water has aroused public concerns about the risks of ingesting the contaminated water and the chronic presence of antimicrobial agents may promote antibiotic resistance (Kolpin et al., 2002). Using naturally occurring antimicrobials such as antimicrobial peptides, plant-based essential oils, bacterio- cins can be a solution to address these concerns. However, many of these natural antimicrobials are not as effective as the synthetic additives, being more expensive, unstable, or water insoluble; therefore, additional procedures should be developed and applied to effectively protect the antimicrobials against chemical degradation, improve their solubility and bioactivity. Furthermore, recent emergence of foodborne disease outbreaks related to Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Saintpaul, and Listeria monocytogenes, etc. has made microbial safety a high priority that more effective intervention systems are needed to preserve the natural antimicrobials stability, especially during food processing and storage.

Yue Zhang and Huaiqiong Chen have contributed equally to this chapter.

Nanoencapsulation of Food Bioactive Ingredients. DOI:

© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The use of nanoencapsulation systems may provide the protection of antimicrobial agents against degradation, enhance the bioavailability and the target delivery of antimicrobial agents, and thereby decrease the amount of antimicrobials required for effective food preservation. In addition, some nanoencapsulation systems are helpful to incorporate antimicrobial agents in food packaging materials. Numerous benefits offered by nanoencapsulation make it among the most promising alternative strategies to ensure food safety. The scope of this chapter is to provide a background of the two classes of antimicrobial compounds (traditional and natural antimicrobial agents), current nanoencapsulation techniques applied on antimicrobial agents as well as their characterizations and recent research achievements, along with their state-of-the-art applications in food systems.

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