12 January - 20 June 2016

Red cabbage seed extract exhibits anti-fungal effect

29 July 2015

The extension of shelf life of foods, especially the ones susceptible to spoilage by mould is of great importance for food manufacturers. 

The shelf-life of food products is determined, in part, by investigating the growth and the development of mould. In particular, germination time, the time it take a mould cell to develop, and the lag time, germination time plus the beginning of the growth (hyphal elongation).

Chemical preservatives as sorbates and benzoate are commonly used in prevention of food spoilage. However, following consumer demand for a ‘clean label’, there has been an increasing interest in using bio-preservation, essential oils or plant extracts as alternative methods. For example a water-soluble extract of red cabbage seeds has the potential to extend shelf-life of bakery products, thanks to its antifungal properties against Aspergillus niger, Penicillium corylophilum and Eurotium repens. Dagnas and colleagues have specifically examined the inhibitory effect of red cabbage seed extract on the germination and hyphal growth of Penicillium corylophilum, and the work has recently been published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. They showed that 10mg/g of plant extract may extend the shelf-life of bakery products by two weeks. It is hypothesised that this positive effect is due to antifungal properties of glucosinolates and polyphenols present in red cabbage. 

Still, there is much more work to be done to fully understand the mode of action, to accurately predict mould-free shelf life, and to identify the kinetics of food spoilage depending on the amounts of plant extract used before any predictive models can be proposed.

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