Natural antimicrobial systems and their potential in food preservation of the future.

Janet Banks, Raymond Board, NH Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


The extensive literature on natural antimicrobial systems in animals, plants, and microorganisms is surveyed and particular systems are discussed, viz., the peroxidase systems in saliva and milk, singlet oxygen in the phagosome, cecropins and attacins in insects, complement, lysozyme and, to a limited extent, phytoalexins. The review draws attention to the cardinal role of targets on the cell envelopes of alien cells, especially bacteria, and emphasizes a possible approach to preservation based on the selection of specific agents for particular targets. The available evidence suggests that the perturbation of the homeostasis of all the organisms in the mixed flora of a food is unlikely to be achieved by one antimicrobial substance in isolation. Future studies need to consider therefore a tandem approach with two or more agents chosen because of their complementary action. Alternatively, natural system(s) and an established preservative method, either chemical or physical, warrant investigation. The extensive literature on the mechanisms whereby specialist pathogens overcome the defenses of plants and animals emphasizes the inherent dangers of selection leading to the persistent contamination of food processing areas with organisms tolerant of a particular antimicrobial system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-147
JournalBiotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPrint publication - Apr 1986
Externally publishedYes


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