Orange oil makes a great natural preservative: It prevents foodborne pathogens and extends shelf life

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(Natural News) There’s no doubt that oranges can do wonders for the body, but a novel study from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon suggests that these citrusy fruits can also be used as a natural preservative, thanks to their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

The study, which was published in CyTA – Journal of Food, looked at the chemical composition of orange essential oil, as well as its active ingredient d-limonene. Researchers also looked at the biological activities of orange essential oil that have undergone folding, a process where an essential oil, usually citrus-based, is re-distilled at low temperatures to isolate certain chemical components. The oil is then concentrated to create a stronger essential oil. This process prolongs the shelf life of citrus-based essential oils and makes them less reactive to ultraviolet light.

To determine its ability to inhibit pathogenic growth, the researchers tested orange essential oil samples against common foodborne bacteria. These include Salmonella typhi, the bacteria responsible for typhoid fever; Bacillus cereus, a toxin-producing bacteria strain the causes diarrhea or vomiting; Staphylococcus aureus, which is responsible for food poisoning; and Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterial strain that can lead to severe, and often life-threatening infections.

Researchers also studied the antioxidant properties of orange essential oil. Oxidation, in particular, can result in the formation of chemical byproducts, such as peroxide, aldehyde, and ketone. These can alter the flavor of a food product or produce off-putting odors. In the study, the researchers stressed the need for natural antioxidants, given synthetic ones like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) have been linked to severe side effects.


The findings revealed that folded orange oil had the best results in terms of antimicrobial activity against all foodborne pathogens. Twenty times-folded orange oil, in particular, had the lowest minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimal bactericide concentration (MBC) values, both of which indicate antimicrobial activity. Similarly, folded orange oil also exhibited potent antioxidant properties, with 20 times-folded orange oil having the best results, compared to other oils studied. (Related: Orange Essential Oils Inhibit Salmonella Activity.)

“The results of this research may provide the knowledge of the antimicrobial and antioxidant potential of folded orange oils obtained from [orange essential oil], and these could be used for control of foodborne pathogens as an alternative to replace the additives used today,” the researchers concluded in their report. “[The results] may provide alternatives for the development of new, safer products that are accepted by consumers who prefer natural ingredients rather than synthetic ingredients.”

Making food stay fresher for longer naturally

It’s a pain to prepare food only to find out later that it has gone bad or tastes funny by the time you’re ready to eat it. Indeed, there are commercial food preservatives available, but these are riddled with toxins that can damage your body, even at minimal amounts.

Here are just some natural food preservatives that you can use to keep food fresh for longer periods.

  • Cayenne pepper. Researchers found that cayenne pepper contains the strongest antimicrobial activity against yeast, mold, and other bacteria. This makes it a great addition to soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Rosemary. Food-grade rosemary essential oil is a potent antioxidant and antimicrobial, and multiple studies showed that it can be used to naturally preserve meat and keep the fats and oils from going rancid.
  • Honey. People have used honey as a preservative for a long time, thanks to its ability to draw out moisture, which prevents bacterial growth. has everything you need about other essential oils with antimicrobial properties.

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