Você está na página 1de 8

Conference Session B4

Paper #3059


Daniel Willis (dgw15@pitt.edu, Bon 6:00), Sara Saidman (sss64@pitt.edu, Budny 10:00)
Abstract Logic suggests that with all the technological
advances being made in food packaging and transportation,
we might be able to return to some age-old methods of
natural preservation. Dozens of botanical preservatives
reveal themselves every year as safe and efficient
antimicrobials, antifungals, and antioxidants [1]. Some of
them have even been shown to increase the nutritional value
of the food they preserve. Particularly, the essential oils of
many herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, can be used
simultaneously as flavorants, nutritional supplements, and
preservatives [2] [3]. In this paper, we hope to demonstrate
the practicality and sustainability of these preservatives, and
their superiority to some of the most popular food
preservatives in the world today. But before we can begin to
discuss the elegance of the natural solution to the issue of
food preservation, we must explain why the synthetic
solution must be replaced. From both a biochemical and
sociopolitical perspective, we will describe the food
processing industrys heavy reliance on artificial
preservatives, and how it has affected both health and the
desires of the consumer on a global scale [4].

scale industrial food manufacturers are inconclusively

researched and potentially harmful. Meanwhile, all-natural
and completely innocuous replacements are consistently
proving to be healthier. But still, no company has set an
example and put the viability of these solutions to the
ultimate test by using them on an industrial scale. More
attention needs to be drawn to the advantages of natural
preservatives, if we wish to alleviate global unhealthiness
and unease.
Before we can introduce these alternatives, it is
important to discuss exactly what makes most chemical
preservatives effective. Food spoilage is primarily the result
of oxidation, enzymatic action, and bacterial or fungal
infection. Thus, most chemical preservatives operate by
creating hostile environments for pathogens, or by
preventing the loss of electrons in food products (as a result
of internal enzymes, or airborne oxidizing agents). Often,
this means using synthetic chemicals with unforeseen health
risks, which must be very strictly regulated by the
government. These chemicals have always been met with
concern from the public, and pressure has been slowly
mounting to purge them from the food supply, as natural
alternatives become more and more practical [6].
With this paper, we hope to reinforce our claims about
the danger of synthetic preservatives, the safety and
practicality of natural preservatives (with a focus on
botanical essential oils), and finally, how easily these
changes can be integrated in food processing plants around
the world. Experiments will be detailed, so that the
effectiveness of these oils can be assessed [2] [3]. And
finally, we will address the industrial efficiency and costeffectiveness of these preservatives, showing that not only
are essential oils (or mixtures thereof) effective and healthy
as preservatives, but they can also appeal to profit-driven
corporations just as much as informed and health-conscious
consumers [4].

Key Words essential oils, preservatives, food science,

chemical engineering, botany, biology, food safety,


Of all the obstacles between farm and plate, the most
controversial food process over the years has been
preservation. People are uncomfortable with the thought of
having their food treated to boost its shelf-life; it conjures
images of sterile factories where meats, fruits, and
vegetables are herded through glass and metal chambers and
indiscriminately sprayed with a cocktail of carcinogens and
neurotoxins. This is an exaggeration of course, but it
contains a kernel of truth: the food industry is not concerned
enough about the well-being of its customers. Too often,
profitability and cost-effectiveness are prioritized above the
health and safety of the consumer. For example, the meatpacking antioxidant Butylated hydroxytoluene, more
commonly known as BHT, is still in use, even though it has
long been known as a cancer promoter [5].
It is the duty of the scientific community to assess the
safety of common additives such as BHT, and provide safer
alternatives when necessary. The time has come for a reevaluation of the food preservation systems currently in
practice. Many of the chemical preservatives used by large-


Although preservatives are among the most rigorously
researched food additives in the world, the contribution of
this research has raised more questions than it has answered.
This, combined with various chain e-mails and urban
legends, has made it difficult for consumers to discern
between truth and fiction when it comes to claims about the
adverse health effects of synthetic preservatives. Everything
from hyperactivity to the development of certain allergies

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
has been linked to synthetic food preservatives [1]. But
below are the details of two rigorously conducted
experiments that demonstrate clear trends. We hope that by
pointing out two of the most popular preservatives and citing
studies that illustrate a clear connection between their
consumption and various health issues, a certain urgency can
be added to the publics plea for a new approach to
The first of the two synthetics discussed here is the
aforementioned BHT. In a study conducted by the Japanese
National Institute of Health Science, working with faculty
members of Tokyos Hoshi University, over two hundred
mice were treated with various combinations of alleged
carcinogens. All four of the treatments most likely to cause
lung cancer, as well as the four treatments responsible for
the highest density of lung tumors per unit area involved
BHT as a promoter. As the study says, [s]tatistically
significant increase in the incidence and multiplicity of lung
tumors was observed in rasH2 mice treated with BHT
following exposure to all the carcinogens tested. It is
apparent from this study that while BHTs status as a cancer
initiator has yet to be conclusively determined, a very clear
trend exists that indicates its ability to accelerate the growth
of cancer, and exacerbate its intensity [5].
But it is more than complex organic chemicals which
have proven dangerous. Sodium nitrate is a simple, naturally
occurring salt, which is mined, not produced industrially.
Nevertheless, in addition to causing hypertension, as most
salts tend to do, some disturbing research has begun to crop
up about this otherwise benign substance. One experiment in
particular, conducted by the Department of Clinical and
Biomedical Physics at Sultan Qaboos University, addresses
something called photogenotoxicity, which they define as
genetic mutation brought about by exposure to light. Their
experiment found evidence that the photogenotoxic effects
of sunlight are intensified by not only sodium nitrate, but
also sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, benzoic acid, and
potassium sorbate. The two other preservatives that were
tested had no additional effect on the genotoxicity of the
subjects. They were the two additives found most frequently
in natural foods (citric acid and sodium nitrate). The
experiment was carried out by measuring the growth rates
and intensities of mutation in colonies of E. Coli bacteria,
with and without each of the food additives, and with and
without exposure to light and UV radiation. The significant
increase in mutation that was observed with the synthetic
preservatives is difficult to blame on any one particular
chemical process, but the authors of the paper discovered a
few possible explanations. Both nitrates and nitrites can
combine with amines to form nitrosamines, which are
potent carcinogens. Another proposed explanation was the
formation of nitrous acid, which has been known to damage
and disrupt human DNA by deaminating the nucleic acid
cytosine, which turns it into thymine, and alters the
information stored on DNA significantly.


Figure 1: Deamination of cytosine [7]

Although this experiment was carried out at a neutral pH,
and does not account for chemical transformations that
would occur in the strongly acidic environment of the human
stomach, it is still quite shocking to think that we are still
uncovering new and unsettling information about synthetic
preservatives [8].
Clearly, American consumers desire to remove
chemical preservatives from the food market [6] is not
without scientific grounding, but much more work needs to
be done in order to convince the public that there are equally
effective and cost-effective solutions that will not damage
their health [4].


sophisticated, and as researchers show more interest in
natural food additives, some particularly appealing
botanicals have revealed themselves. One excellent example
is the essential oil as a preservative. An essential oil is a
fluid extracted from a plant, and it contains the plants
aromatic compounds in high concentrations. These aromatic
compounds have the tendency to create a hostile
environment for bacteria and fungus, and can be
characterized by the proportions of particular aroma
compounds they contain. Particularly desirable are essential
oils with large amounts of terpenes (molecules containing
one or more isoprene (C H ) groups), which are very
effective as antimicrobial and antifungal agents. But even
more interesting, is that many terpenes are already used as
flavorants (such as lemon and coriander flavors) and
nutritional supplements (such as vitamin A). Many of these
essential oils, or chemical components thereof, can already
be found in many industrially manufactured foods, just not
as preservatives. Many essential oils also contain phenols,
which are some of the most powerful antioxidants in the
world. Thus, not only are highly phenolic essential oils such
as wintergreen or clove oil effective flavorants, antifungals,
and antimicrobials, but they also have antioxidant properties
which can preserve food and give it unexpected health
benefits [1].

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis

for its antimicrobial abilities, but also its status as an

excellent antioxidant. It can shut down the enzymatic action
responsible for the oxidation and subsequent browning of
fresh-cut apples, as well as significantly reduce the number
of surface pathogens on the apple. In addition, clove oil was
reported to do all this without flavor change, despite the
cloves reputation as a quite pungent spice [3].
To go into greater detail with the mechanisms of
essential oils preservative action is quite difficult. There are
theories, but researchers have yet to find and agree upon a
definite and conclusive answer as to why essential oils make
good preservatives. One leading theory is that they can react
with fatty acids inside bacteria and disintegrate or destabilize
their cell membranes, rendering them completely inert, or
unable to transfer vital substances through its cell
membrane. However, in order to do this, the oil must be
polar enough to dissolve inside the bacteria, but non-polar
enough to react with non-polar substances inside the cell.
Another issue arises from the most effective method of
applying essential oils: vaporization. Because heat can
destroy some of the antimicrobial properties of essential oils,
the more volatile an oil is, the more likely it is to be
impractical on a large scale. However, these disadvantages
can be remedied. The issue of volatility can be solved by
decreasing atmospheric pressure in the treatment chamber or
utilizing aerosol application methods, and ideal polarities
and potencies can be achieved by mixing together essential
oils [1].
It may require further fine-tuning to discover exactly
which oils are effective for which foods. It may also be
difficult to find combinations of foods and oils that
consumers find palatable. And more challenges arise in the
search for a constant flow of chemically similar botanicals.
But essential oil food preservation is ancient technology. Far
Eastern essential oil manufacture can be traced back over
2,000 years. The first formal report on essential oil
preservatives was published in 1880, and research continues
to this day, but seldom are essential oils utilized on an
industrial scale [3]. While they may never completely
overtake the preservative market, they can work in tandem
with other promising natural preservatives as part of a
system which hopefully will phase out synthetics
completely, given enough time. With sufficient research,
essential oils can become equally practical as synthetics, but
much safer [1].

Common terpenes [9]

One example of a terpenoid essential oil already being
used in the food industry today is citral, which is actually a
mixture of two monoterpenoids present in citrus peel. After
a trend was pointed out between the post-harvest bacterial
susceptibility of different citrus fruits and the concentration
of citral in their peels, exporters began applying the
substance to the peels of fruits with lower citral
concentrations. The harvests proved to last longer and
produce far less waste than before. So, not only does the
application of citral yield more aromatic citrus, but it also
allows the fruits to be shipped longer distances with minimal
microbial activity, and it has even been shown to have anticarcinogenic properties as well [1].
Similar effects have been noted with the usage of
cardamom oil in orange juice [10]. Orange juice is almost
always packaged with an airtight seal, and its high sugar
content assists the packaging in preventing the growth of
mold and bacterial colonies. But still, a perennial problem
faced by orange juice manufacturers is avoiding the
bitterness that sets in due to the small amounts of bacteria
that make their way into the final product, despite
pasteurization and bottling. A test was conducted using
nearly identical 70mL samples of orange juice treated with
various natural preservatives. In every test of quality, the
cardamom essential oil, at a mere 10 L per 70mL of orange
juice, maintained the quality of the orange juice. Throughout
the 28 day trial, the cardamom-treated orange juice
outperformed all the other samples. It had retained the
highest mass, vitamin C content, and natural acidity, while
controlling increases in fermented sugar, microbial activity,
and perceived bitterness. And best of all, cardamom is
nontoxic and safe for public health, so it can be an
acceptable alternative to chemical preservatives.
An example of a high-phenol essential oil with a very
practical application as an antioxidant is clove oil. Clove oil,
and specifically its major phenolic constituent, eugenol, is
one of the most rigorously researched essential oils. Not
only is eugenol well-known in the food science community


The need to replace synthetic preservatives with natural
botanicals and essential oils continues to grow as more
research and experimentation reveals the exponential
benefits of natural preservatives in comparison with their
unnatural counterparts. Many studies show that essential oils
prove to be as, if not more effective than the currently used
synthetics in preventing the growth of pathogens and delay

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
of spoilage in food. Moreover, these essential oils do not
have the harmful health risks that come with the use of
synthetics. Plus, essential oils are environmentally friendly,
degradable, and cheaper than chemical preservatives [11].
Thus, essential oils should be at the forefront of the food
The first experiment discussed here involves the use of
essential oils in inhibiting the growth of Acrobacter, a
harmful pathogen. Currently, there are eight known species
of Acrobacter, and they cultivate in drinking water and
meats, including pork, beef, poultry, and mussels [3].
Acrobacter species are associated with enteritis and other
human illness ranging from enteric diseases to liver
cirrhosis, acute gangrenous appendicitis, and hematogenous
pneumonia [12]. The need to inhibit the growth and
development of this infectious pathogen is prominent in
order to prevent transmission of disease and maintain public
safety; however, current chemical preservatives and
inhibitors raise other issues and concerns of food safety due
to harmful side effects and the increase in antibiotic resistant
pathogens. Thus, we propose the use of natural essential oils
to replace their unnatural counterparts. Rosemary, bay,
cinnamon, and clove have all have been proven to
effectively inhibit the growth of Acrobacter pathogen.
Rosemary oil contains certain compounds and extracts
responsible for antimicrobial activity. According to this
experiment, rosemary successfully inhibited Acrobacter
butzleri from a human subject, two isolates of minced beef,
and from chicken meat. Rosemary proved to be the most
effective inhibitor against Acrobacter strains. The
experiment tested the growth of isolates of Acrobacter
butzleri over a period of 7 days using an untreated minced
meat product as the control, and two other samples of
minced meat treated with 0.25% (vol/wt) and 0.50% (vol/wt)
of the rosemary essential oil. All of the samples of meat had
the same initial fat content, moisture content, and pH, and
they were all stored in the same refrigeration unit at 4C to
ensure accurate results. The Acrobacter butzleri count was
measured daily in colony-forming units per gram (cfu/g).
Figure 2 shows the mean values of the three trials conducted,
and the asterisks represent error bars for the three trials.
According to figure 2 and the experiment, the control sample
count of Acrobacter butzleri increased after three days, and
reached 8.00 log cfu/g at the 7-day end point. The figure also
shows that rosemary oil in the meat at a 0.25% (vol/wt)
concentration had only slight inhibitory effects on the
Acrobacter butzleri. The 0.25% (vol/wt) rosemary oil
concentration initially lowered the Acrobacter butzleri count
to 6 log cfu/g, but after 3 days the count increased rapidly to
about that of the control samples. However, the 0.50%
(vol/wt) concentration of rosemary oil inhibited all
sustainable Acrobacter butzleri by day 4 of the experiment,
and the rosemary oil in this concentration maintained its
inhibiting effects through the rest of the 7 days. The essential
oil of bay (Laurus nobilis) exceptionally prevented growth

against the Acrobacter skirrowii and Acrobacter spp strains.

After rosemary bay was the second most effective inhibitor
against the Acrobacter. Bay mostly contains -pinene, pinene, sabinene, linalool, -terpinil acetate, and 1.8-cineole,
all of which have moderate to high antifungal and
antimicrobial activity. Bay oil and its constituents also
possess antimicrobial activity against Aspergillus spp.,
Penicillium spp. and Trichoderma viride [13]. Clove oil
inhibited all the strains of Acrobacter, except Acrobacter
butzleri. Cinnomon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) extracts
were especially effective against the Acrobacter butzleri,
Acrobacter skirrowii, and Acrobacter cryaerophilus strains
[2]. Cinnamons primary constituents include transcinnamaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde propylene, eugenol, and
limonene, all of which exhibit strong antimicrobial activity
against Acrobater. Cinnamon oils components also inhibit
many fungal species that cause food poisoning, spoilage, and
plants and animal pathogens; these species include Phompsis
helianthi, Cladosporium fulvium, Phoma magdonaldii,
Aspergillus versicolor, Aureobasidium pullulans and
Cladosporium cladosporioides [13]. This experiment shows
the effectiveness of essential oils in inhibited
microbacterium and pathogens, specifically Acrobacter.
Rosemary proved to be the most competent in preventing the
cultivation of Acrobacter strains, and overall many studies
have shown the antimicrobial effect of rosemary on meats.
The results of this study verify that rosemary and other
essential oils such as bay, cinnamon, and clove can all act as
antimicrobial agents in foods contaminated with Acrobacter.

Inhibition of bacterial growth on cooked meat treated

with rosemary oil [2]

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
higher concentrations affects the aroma and flavor of the
food product, which can pleasantly improve the food product
for the consumer with modifications in stereochemistry [3].
These compounds also have the capability to naturally
improve shelf life of food products; act as antimicrobial
agents, deemed safe by various US regulatory agencies; and
have more superficial benefits for the consumer, including a
pleasant aroma and improved taste.

The second experiment discussed here will further

examine the use of rosemary, as well as oregano, as viable
options for antimicrobial agents and food preservation. It has
been estimated that as many as 30% of people in
industrialized countries suffer from a foodborne disease each
year; the most common foodborne disease is Salmonellosis,
with more than 325,000 cases per year [14]. The experiment
tests the essential oils of rosemary and oregano against two
microorganisms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella enteritidis.
The study used cheeses contaminated with a higher
inoculum than encountered in naturally contaminated
products, and used 0.1%, 0.5%, and 1.0% concentrations of
the plant essential oils to achieve inhibition. Thus, it can be
assumed that lower concentrations of essential oils would
suffice for naturally contaminated products [14]. The results
also show that rosemary inhibited E. coli and S. enteritidis
better and more quickly than oregano. However, both
essential oils effectively stopped the growth of those two
mircroorganisms and posed no safety concern to the
potential consumer, thus, confirming the benefits of natural
essential oils as opposed to synthetics.
In addition to having unique chemical properties that
make them excellent preservatives, some essential oils have
components in them that make up phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals, or botanical chemicals that stimulate the
human senses, give additional benefits to the use of natural
preservatives by extending shelf life, eliminating pathogenic
bacteria, and increasing the quality of food products. The
active components in herbs, spices, and fruits can be divided
into subgroups by chemical structure. The main groups
include phytophenolics in herbs and spices, flavonoids and
acids in fruits and berries, and glucosinolates in cruciferous
vegatables, mustard cabbage, and horseradish [15].
Phytochemicals that contain sulphur, or isothiocyanates, are
formed from the breakdown of glucosinolates by chewing.
These isothiocyanates neutralize carcinogens and thus have
anticancer properties. Phytophenolics and flavorants are both
plant-based phytochemicals that serve as potent antioxidants
and prooxidants. Flavorants also possess anticancer
properties by inhibiting the growth of the epidermal growth
factor receptor which causes cell proliferation and cancer
causing proteins [16]. Phytochemicals generally are
composed of several components from plants and some such
components are in essential oils such as oregano, clove,
cinnamon, citral, garlic, coriander, rosemary, parsley,
lemongrass, sage, vanillin and lichens, all of which contain
antimicrobial chemical compounds such as carvacrol,
cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and camphor [3]. Phytochemicals
have benefits beyond inhibiting bacteria, preventing the
growth of cancer, and acting as antioxidants and
prooxidants; they can also improve the quality of food
superficially. Generally, spices, herbs, and their essential oils
are used in food systems within the range of 0.005%-0.1%
[3]. The phytochemical aspect of these essential oils in

The controversy over the issue of food preservation
continues to escalate as a primary topic of discussion in
legislation and among the general population of America
and the world. Modern media continually promotes
alternatives for a healthier diet, criticizes chemicals in our
food, and discusses how preservatives are related to food
quality and general health worldwide. The media constantly
reports overdramatized stories about food and food
processes intended to scare the general population and cause
uproar. Relatively recently, a story about the meat industry
broke and in it the media evocatively referred to lean finely
textured beef as pink slime. In these stories, the media
defamed the ground beef additive and caused extreme
controversy amongst the public. Consumer backlash forced
the beef industry to respond to the protest of their product.
Thus, companies that produced the beef had to substitute the
low-cost filler known as pink slime for other more expensive
alternatives. Widespread consumer concerns powered by the
media had the power to transform the entire ground beef
process and market. Now the media and producers of food
constantly display messages promoting organic and health
foods. Subway has a new eat fresh motto with
commercials that display healthy diet success stories and fit
athletes. Even McDonalds, a company eternally plagued by
health concerns, promotes their healthy menu options to
capitalize on this burgeoning desire.
As a result consumers have turned their focus on the
key words fresh, organic, and all-natural when deciding
on what foods to buy. Consumers seek out foods that are not
packed with artificial preservatives or extremely processed.
Companies easily take advantage of this growing trend for
natural foods because the term natural in regards to food
products has no legal definition [4]. Thus, it becomes a
misnomer for consumers because consumers associate the
word natural with safe and healthy, whereas some chemicals
and synthetic preservatives that can pose a threat to health
can fall within the general definition of natural. The
fundamental problem remains that the definition of natural
varies worldwide; the foremost issue the industry faces is
determining and communicating exactly what constitutes of
natural [4]. Despite these arguments, scientists and
consumers alike agree that synthetic and chemical

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
preservatives should not fall within the definition of natural.
The market for natural ingredients can be broadly divided
into three categories, despite the unclear definition of
natural. The first market is for functional, health-improving
products; the second market is for new tastes and flavors;
and the third market is a response to consumer concerns
about synthetic ingredients and manufacturer desire for clean
labeling [4]. A practical solution to meet these concerns
and fit the market demand is in essential oils and natural
There is yet another advantage to essential oils.
Compared to other preservatives, they are sustainable.
According to the Chemical Society Green Chemistry
Institute, sustainability has three pillars: economy, society,
and environment. In order for something to have
sustainability, it must balance the three aspects of
sustainability in a synergistic way [17]. Environmental
sustainability requires an indefinite ability to manage
renewable resource harvest, pollution, and nonrenewable
resources. Economic sustainability means that the solutions
should have the ability to support the needs of the consumer
indefinitely. Social sustainability means that it benefits the
population as a whole and allows the population to function
at a peak level of social well-being indefinitely [17].
Essential oils and botanicals meet the three pillars of
Botanicals are environmentally sustainable because their
manufacturing process is clean, inexpensive, and produces
very little waste, even on an industrial scale. Steam
extraction and hydrodistillation are two common high-output
methods of essential oil extraction, both of which only
produce two byproducts: biodegradable, compostable
biomass, and water vapor. Both of these methods require
only simple machinery and a source of plant material, such
as rosemary (whose essential oil is very effectively extracted
by steam) and produce a potent product, containing all the
terpenes and phenols that make essential oils so effective,
and for a reasonable amount of money. [18] Synthetic
preservatives, however, when produced on an industrial
scale, can result in toxic runoff and environmentally harmful
byproducts, and are often made using processes and systems
that require chemicals whose manufacture processes are just
as harmful as those of the preservative itself.
The above-mentioned benefits of essential oils also
work to meet the social aspect of sustainability because the
organic, environmentally friendly manufacturing process
helps to improve the health and safety of food products.
Also, phytochemicals meet the second aspect of the market
by offering new aromas and tastes, and natural preservatives
are the clear solution to ease consumer concerns about
synthetic products and clear labeling. Thus, the
implementation of natural preservatives, and specifically
essential oils, as an alternative to the additive ridden,
synthetics remains the most popular and clear-cut solution to
meet consumer demands.

Economic sustainability has not yet been met due to the

aforementioned fine tuning needed to find exactly which oils
work with which foods and in what concentrations those oils
are needed to maximize the palatability of that food.
However, with further research and development, essential
oils can be easily implemented in the food industry on a
large scale to meet consumer demand.


Simply put, the use of essential oils is the most
advantageous for preservation and the inhibition of
pathogens in food systems. Currently, the most commonly
used synthetics have adverse side effects. For example, some
synthetics, such as BHT and sodium nitrate, have been
proven to promote the development of lung cancer and
photogenotoxicity. The scientific community has a
responsibility to the general public to maintain their safety
and well-being. Thus, the scientific community has a social
obligation to protect the public against the potential health
damage of synthetics and develop a safe, alternative
solution. Moreover, as young developing engineers we have
the power to focus our efforts on specific engineering
challenges in order to benefit mankind. I believe that we
have an ethical obligation to improve the quality of life, and
we should strive to do so with integrity and honor. The clear
solution to this public threat is the implementation of the use
of essential oils in food safety and preservation.
Engineers are highly valuable in the exploration of
essential oils possibilities. They are capable of doing all the
research, but will consistently employ a realistic desire for
efficiency and practicality unmatched by other science
professionals. They also will perceive the goal of the
research as a physical product. The scientific communitys
collective knowledge will be enriched along the way, but
synthetic preservatives are a real and serious problem, and
one that needs a real solution. It is not enough to develop
understanding of the potential solutions available to us, and
engineers will make sure that something changes in the real
world. They can also develop ways of synthesizing active
ingredients in essential oils, without reducing their
effectiveness or restoring the health problems brought about
by synthetics in the first place. Or, if there are compounds
producing offensive odors in essential oils, they can modify
them, and develop processes to extract these compounds.
Another possible requirement for certain applications is
mixtures of essential oils, or long-term emulsification of oils
in water-based products. These natural preservatives need a
little work before they can be employed on a large scale, and
engineers are exactly who we need to do that work. They
can find situations in which essential oils are not just
effective, but cost-effective, and make formal proposals to

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
burgeoning sector of the industry. International Food
Ingredients, Issue 5. (Online Article). pp. 25+.
[5] T. Umemura, Y. Kodama, et al. (2006). Nine-week
detection of six genotoxic lung carcinogens using the
rasH2/BHT mouse model. Cancer Letters, Vol. 231, Issue
2. (Online Article). DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.02.024. pp.
[6] N. Potter. (2006). "Food Preservation." McGraw-Hill
Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. (Online
[7] C. K. Chuen, C. C. Chiu, C. M. Lai, et al. Biology 2310.
Chinese University of Hong Kong. (Lecture Notes).
[8] F. Salih. (2006). Risk assessment of combined
photogenotoxic effects of sunlight and food additives.
Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 362. (Online
Article). pp. 68-73.
[9] W. Reusch. (2006). Terpene Structure. (Website). <
[10] I. Kapoor, B. Singh, G. Singh. (2011). Essential oil
and oleoresins of cardamom (AMOMUM SUBULATUM
ROXB.) as natural food preservatives for sweet orange
(CITRUS SINENSIS) juice. Journal of Food Processing
Engineering, Vol. 34, Issue 4. (Online Article). pp. 11011113.
[11] M. Das, C.C. Rath, U.B. Mohapatra. (2012).
Bacteriology of a most popular street food (Panipuri) and
inhibitory effect of essential oils on bacterial growth.
Journal of Food Science and Technology, Vol 49, Issue 5.
(Online Article). DOI: 10.1007/s13197-010-0202-2. pp. 564571.
[12] M.T. Fera, T.L. Maugeri, C. Gugliandolo, C. Beninati,
(2004). Detection of Acrobacter spp. in the Coastal
Environmental of the Mediterranean Sea. Applied and
Environmental , Microbiology, Vol 70, Issue 3. (Online
Article). DOI: 10.1128/AEM.70.3.1271-1276.2004. pp.
[13] A. Sumuc, M.D. Sokovic, M. Ristic, S. GrujicJovanovic, J. Vukojevic, P.D. Marin. (2004). The chemical
composition of some Lauraceae essential oils and their
antifungal activities. Phytotherapy Research, Vol 18, Issue
9. (Online Article). DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1516. pp. 713-717.
[14] H. M. Abdelmigid, H. A Hamedo. (2009). Use of
antimicrobial and genotoxicity potentiality for evaluation of
essential oils as food preservatives. Open Biotechnology
10.2174/1874070700903010050. pp. 50-56.
[15] B. Schirmer, S. Langsrud. (2010). Evaluation of
Natural Antimicrobials on Typical Meat Spoilage Bacteria
In Vitro and in Vacuum-Packed Pork Meat. Journal of
Food Science, Vol 75, Issue 2. (Online article). DOI:
10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01485.x. pp. 98-102.
[16] Y. Sakihama, M.F. Cohen, S.C. Grace, H. Yamasaki.
(2002). Plant phenolic antioxidant and prooxidant

food companies, or the food industry as a whole, in order to

get these products on the market.
Engineers devise new technologies. They have their
fingers on the pulse of what the world needs, and they strive
to figure out how companies can meet those needs. In the
current political environment where sustainability is
always a concern, essential oils are exactly what we need to
meet the worlds need for more sustainable food processing.
Green chemistry is an innovative approach to sustainability
has been defined as the design, development, and
implementation of chemical products and processes to
reduce or eliminate the use and generation of substances
hazardous to human health and the environment [17]. If
that is truly chemistry and chemical engineerings
contribution to sustainability, essential oils deserve much
more research and consideration than they are currently
receiving. They can be implemented in factories across the
world at relatively low cost, and eliminate all of the harmful
by-products and waste that synthetic preservative
manufacturers release into the environment.
The research and experimentation done with essential
oils thus far proves that they have the potential to replace
synthetics while maintaining a high degree of food safety for
consumers. Various essential oils have the ability to inhibit
the development of different microbial activity, plus as
previously stated they have aroma compounds that create a
hostile environment for bacteria and fungi. Essential oils,
especially rosemary, are known for its medicinal uses and its
potential in the prevention of cancer [14]. Plus,
phytochemicals from essential oils provide an aromatic and
flavor benefit. Thus, the use of essential oils as an alternative
to synthetic preservatives is the best option we currently
have because of the antioxidant, medicinal, antimicrobial,
aromatic, gustatory, and most importantly, naturally derived

[1] R. Bhat, A. K. Alias, G. Paliyath. (2011). Essential Oils
and Other Plant Extracts as Food Preservatives. Progress in
Food Preservation. New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons. (Book
Chapter). pp. 539-580.
[2] S. Abay, F. Aydin, R. Irkin. (2011). Inhibitory effects of
some plant essential oils against Arcobacter butzleri and
potential for rosemary oil as a natural food preservative.
Journal of Medicinal Food, Vol. 14, Issue 3. (Online
article). DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0001. pp. 291+.
[3] M. Tajkarimi, S. A. Ibrahim. (2012). Phytochemicals as
Anti-microbial Food Preservatives. Dietary Phytochemicals
and Microbes. (Online article). DOI: 10.1007/978-94-0073926-0_7. pp. 207-235.
[4] I. McMurray. (2009). The natural way: with demand for
natural ingredients growing exponentially, Ian McMurray
looks at the obstacles and opportunities faced by this
University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering
April 2, 2013

Sara Saidman
Daniel Willis
activities: phenolics-induced oxidative damage mediated by
metals in plants. Toxicology, Volume 177, Issue 1. (Online
Article). DOI: 10.1016/S0300-483X(02)00196-8. pp. 67-80.
[17] J. Manley, P. Anastas, B. Cue. (2008). Frontiers in
Green Chemistry: meeting the grand challenges for
sustainability in R&D and manufacturing. Journal of
Cleaner Production, Vol. 16, Issue 6. (Online Article). DOI:
10.1016/j.jclepro.2007.02.025. pp. 743-750.
[18] C. Boutekedjiret, F Bentahar, R. Belabbes, J. M.
Bessiere. (2003). Extraction of rosemary essential oil by
steam distillation and hydrodistillation. Flavour and
Fragrance Journal. (Online Article). DOI: 10.1002/ffj.1226.
p. 481-484.

We would like to thank Dr. Dan Budny, Dan Mcmillan
and the Pitt Writing Center for encouraging us to make the
most professional paper possible. We would also like to
thank Robert Boback and Zack Ramsey, the chair and cochair for our conference session, for allowing this wonderful
event to continue into its thirteenth year. Dan Willis wishes
to acknowledge his parents, and his colleagues Jake
Stambaugh and Shelley Goldberg, for their comments on
early drafts of this paper, as well as Alton Brown for
sparking his interest in food science at such a young age.
Sara Saidman wishes to acknowledge her parents for
sparking her interest in engineering and getting her to this
point. She also wishes to thank Julia Dawson and Melissa
Carlson for reviewing and commenting on this paper
throughout the writing process.

University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering

April 2, 2013