In Singapore, a group of scientists has discovered a plant-based alternative to conventional artificial preservatives. The organic preservative is based on a natural substance found in fruit and vegetables. Tests have shown that the plant-based alternative keeps food fresh for longer and can also ward off pathogens.
A research team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, together with senior Professor William Chen, Director of the NTU Food Science & Technology programme, has discovered a new type of preservative of vegetable origin. They are known as flavonoids, possessing antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and found in almost all fruits and vegetables. As phytonutrients, they occur naturally in plants and are responsible for defending them against pathogens, herbivores and pests.
Senior Professor Chen explained, “This organic food preservative is derived from plants and made from food-safe microbes, which means that it is 100% natural. It is also more effective than artificial preservatives, and does not require any further processing to keep food fresh.” The team confirmed this with a test, which found that the plant-based preservatives kept meat and fruit juice samples fresh for longer (two days) than conventional artificial preservatives (six hours) before the first bacteria formed.
“This could open new doors in food preservation technology, and provide a cost-effective solution for industries. They will be able to promote a sustainable food production system, producing healthier foods that stay fresh for longer,” Chen continued. The scientists have already contacted interested companies to discuss using and developing the new preservative.