Despite the high degree of awareness of food preservation methods, there is increasing occurrence of disease outbreaks caused by pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in foods. Due to consumer awareness and negative perception of artificial preservatives in food, in recent years attention is shifting toward alternatives that the consumers recognize as natural. Thus, herbal extracts are now getting more space in food industry to prevent the propagation of bacteria that affect the spoilage of food or for the spread of so-called food-borne diseases. Herbal extracts, particularly essential oils (EOs), have complex composition that quality and composition depend on the method of extraction. There are now numerous reports of the in vitro antimicrobial activity of EOs in the scientific and medical literature: EOs are found to have broad-spectrum inhibitory activities against various food-borne Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria. In this chapter, definition, history, and economic importance of aromatic herbs and herbal extracts, particularly EOs, are described. Also, attention has been paid to techniques for extraction, as well as chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of herbal extracts. This chapter demonstrates the possibility of usage of herbal extracts in preventing food-borne infection through literature survey and original results.
Part of the book: Significance, Prevention and Control of Food Related Diseases