Researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have discovered a plant-based food preservative that is more effective than artificial preservatives.
In tests carried out on meat and fruit juice samples, the organic preservative kept its samples fresh for two days without refrigeration.
The experiment was conducted at room temperature (about 23 degrees Celsius). The other food samples with artificial preservatives succumbed to bacteria contamination within six hours.
The NTU research team was led by Professor William Chen, Director of NTU’s Food Science & Technology programme.
“This organic food preservative is derived from plants and produced from food grade microbes, which means that it is 100 percent natural. It is also more effective than artificial preservatives and does not require any further processing to keep food fresh," said Prof Chen.
“This may open new doors in food preservation technologies, providing a low-cost solution for industries, in turn encouraging a sustainable food production system.”
Known as flavonoids, the substance is a naturally occurring chemical in plants. It is responsible for defending plants against pathogens, herbivores, pests, and even environmental stress such as strong ultraviolet rays from prolonged hours of sunshine.
Flavonoids are found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for inducing vivid colours in them. These include onions, tea, strawberries, kale, and grapes.