*Yashvee Vaghela

Current food processing trends promote the use of natural substances, which are regarded as safe alternatives and suit customer preferences for more eco-friendly foods. Foods can retain flavour, colour, texture, and nutritional value with the help of preservatives. The preservation procedure will prevent the growth of microorganisms like fungi and bacteria.

 The main goals of food preservation are to maintain food’s taste, texture, flavour, quality, and nutritional value, as well as to reduce food waste, extend the shelf life of a product, protect food materials during transportation, and make handling food materials easier. Additionally, it’s crucial for our health to make sure we eat food with high nutritional values.

The awareness of the effects of consuming artificial preservatives has increased interest in natural preservatives. Natural food preservatives are typically derived from plants, animals, and microorganisms. 

Food preservatives are food additives that lower the pH of the food and stabilise its redox potential in order to preserve it. Preservatives can maintain the foods’ organoleptic qualities while extending their shelf life. Active substances like phenolic acids, flavonoids, quinone, tannins, and other substances act as antimicrobial and antioxidant which natural sources possess. 

Spices are a very effective form of natural preservatives due to high levels of antioxidants. Mustard , cloves , thyme , rosemary are a few to name. To get rid of food-borne pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella and to improve the quality of various foods, various herbal and spice antimicrobial agents are used. 

One of the basic ingredients which is used in our kitchen, salt, inhibits the growth of microorganisms by reducing the amount of water available to them. Foods in cans are kept fresh and flavourful with the help of salt.

Sugar , the sweetness inducing component, absorbs excess water, preserving food. Microorganisms cannot flourish inside of food without water. Even after the containers are opened, sugar keeps jams, jellies and sweet pickles fresh for many weeks.

 Another commonly used kitchen ingredient , oil , keeps microorganisms from coming into contact with food, preserving its freshness. It also slows down the rate of oxidation in food, which helps keep it from going bad right away. The food industry can use plant seed oil to create more organic or green foods and can also effectively increase the shelf-life.

 Citric acid , which is the active component in lemon juice is a natural preservative. It is considered as an antioxidant and as an acid. Citric acid is useful as a preservative due to its acidic pH. Citric acid is frequently used as a preservative in jams, jellies, candy, canned foods, and even meat products because many bacteria cannot flourish in an acidic environment.

 Natural preservatives are used in both raw and cooked food to extend the food’s shelf life so that the flavour, aroma, and actual food can be preserved for a longer period of time. They stop food from spoiling bad as well. Some natural preservation techniques include freezing, pickling, deep-frying, salting, and smoking in addition to preservatives.

With the growing demand of food and to avoid wastage as well, it is important to preserve food. Along with the importance of preserving food, it is essential to keep a check on health factor of the consumers. That is when the approach of preservation comes into play. According to the growing public awareness about the safety of food additives and preservatives, the consumers understand that the foods containing chemicals may be harmful to their health in a long run. They tend to cause diseases like cancer , heart diseases and breathing problems. Therefore, use of natural preservatives is the best solution for this problem. This solution makes an effective attempt to naturally extend the shelf life of the foods along with food safety.

In-house writer, FMT Magazine*