About this Research Topic
Plants produce numerous secondary metabolites as part of their normal growth and development in order to fight against environmental stress, pathogen attack or other adversities. One of the most important secondary metabolites are essential oils (EOs), which are extracted from plants, commonly by a distillation process, and then used as natural additives in different foods to reduce the proliferation of microorganisms and their toxins production due to their antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties. They have received major consideration in regard to their relatively safe status and enrichment by a wide range of structurally different useful constituents. Until 1989, more than 1340 plants were known to be potential sources of antimicrobial compounds, which are safe for the environment and consumers, and are useful to control postharvest diseases, being an excellent alternative to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture.
The majority of essential oils are classified as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and have low risk for developing resistance to pathogenic microorganisms. Day by day, researchers have been studying the properties of these secondary metabolites, finding that they act as toxin-controllers, diminishing toxin rates in crops, fruits and also in processed foods. Research on this topic is needed in order to reduce losses in crop productions, to lengthen the shelf life of fruit, and to improve the quality of processed foods, also generating lower economic losses due to bacteria, fungi and their mycotoxins.
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