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Trends in Food Science & Technology
Vol. 57, 2016, Pages: 165–177

Delivery systems of antimicrobial compounds to food

Yezhi Fu, Preetam Sarkar, Arun K. Bhunia, Yuan Yao

Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, Department of Food Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.



Food antimicrobial compounds are naturally present or purposefully added in food systems to retard microbial growth or cause microbial death to improve food safety and quality. Directly added antimicrobial compounds to food products may face several major challenges: (1) poor solubility in aqueous systems; (2) limited stability against chemical or physical degradation; (3) uncontrolled release, and (4) possible adverse effects on food sensory qualities. One approach to address these problems is the use of delivery systems.

Scope and approach

In this review, antimicrobial compounds are categorized into synthetic and naturally occurring. They are briefly reviewed with their properties and applications. Considering their structural and physicochemical aspects, three types of delivery system are discussed: (1) emulsion-based, (2) nanosized carrier-based, and (3) film or coating-based. Applicatons of antimicrobial delivery systems in food are discussed.

Key findings and conclusions

Compared with the direct addition of antimicrobial compounds, the use of delivery systems may protect active compounds from degradation, improve their solubility in aqueous phase, decrease their impact on food sensory qualities, and control their release. Although numerous delivery systems have shown efficacies under in vitroconditions, their antimicrobial performances need to be verified in real food systems. The availability of low-cost, food-grade carrier materials and the knowledge of interactions between delivery systems and other food components are essential to achieving industrial success for the design and use of delivery systems of antimicrobial compounds.

Keywords: Antimicrobial compounds; Emulsions; Nanosized carriers; Films and coatings; Delivery systems.

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