Wayne State Researchers Tap Nature to Reduce Foodborne Bacteria


A team of researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit has found a natural way to reduce bacterial contamination of fresh produce and ensure safety through the use of nanoengineering techniques.

The researchers used nanoemulsions, a tiny particle of oil and water, along with high-pressure techniques, to combine the particles to make the oil more solvent. The study suggests essential oil nanoemulsions could be a good natural alternative to chemicals to reduce foodborne bacteria. 

“Much of the research on the antimicrobial efficacy of essential oils has been conducted using products made by mixing immiscible oils in water or phosphate buffered saline,” says Dr. Yifan Zhang, assistant professor of nutrition and food science. “However… organic compounds from produce may interfere with reducing the sanitizing effect or duration of the effectiveness of these essential oils.”

He says plant essential oils such from thyme, oregano, and clove are known to have a strong antimicrobial effect.

“Our team set out to find a new approach to inhibit these bacteria with the use of oregano oil, one of the most effective plant essential oils with antimicrobial effect,” Zhang says.