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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332280

Research Project: Biocontrol Interventions for High-Value Agricultural Commodities

Location: Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research

Title: Design and testing of safer more effective preservatives for consumer products

item BUCKLEY, HEATHER - University Of California
item Hart-Cooper, William
item KIM, JONG - Former ARS Employee
item FAULKNER, DAVID - University Of California
item Cheng, Luisa
item Chan, Kathleen - Kathy
item VULPE, CHRIS - University Of Florida
item Orts, William
item AMROSE, SUSAN - University Of California
item MULVIHILL, MARTIN - University Of California

Submitted to: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2017
Publication Date: 5/1/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Buckley, H.L., Hart-Cooper, W.M., Kim, J.H., Faulkner, D.N., Cheng, L.W., Chan, K.L., Vulpe, C.D., Orts, W.J., Amrose, S.E., Mulvihill, M.J. 2017. Design and testing of safer, more effective preservatives for consumer products. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. 5(5):4320-4331. doi: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b00374.

Interpretive Summary: Safer, more effective preservatives for composite materials, formulated products, and prepared foods and packaging are identified through antimicrobial assays and analysis of human health and environmental impacts. As a potential alternative preservative, octyl gallate shows promising antimicrobial activity against representative mold and bacteria, comparing favorably to common commercial preservatives in these applications. Other benzoic acids also show some antimicrobial activity, particularly against bacteria. These results are particularly promising because, although they are not completely free of potential hazard to human health and the environment, a systematic study suggests octyl gallate and its structural analogues have hazard profiles that compare favorably to those of many commercial preservatives. When considering potential antimicrobial compounds and alternative chemistries for any application in industrial or consumer products, it is critical to consider hazard to human health and the environment as a design parameter alongside efficacy and product compatibility. Through systematic evaluation of the tradeoffs between these factors, early in the design process, we can create the safest, most effective chemistries possible.

Technical Abstract: A comprehensive evaluation of both safety and efficacy of alternative preservatives is crucial to the development of more sustainable composite materials, formulated products, and food packaging. By comparing the antimicrobial activity against Aspergillus brasiliensis (mold) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Gram negative bacteria) as well as the human and environmental health hazards, a series of proposed phenolic preservatives are evaluated as compared to common preservatives in current product formulations. Octyl gallate (octyl 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoate) is found to have better antimicrobial activity and comparable or lower hazard to human health and environment, and may be a viable alternative small-molecule preservative for more widespread use.