Synthetic preservatives are widely utilized by the food industry to inhibit the microbial contamination and increase food safety and shelf life. The excessive utilization of synthetic preservatives can have a negative impact on human health and the environment. There is a great interest to find out natural substances as possible food-preservatives. The consumers’ preference for food products with natural ingredients prompted food manufacturers to utilize natural-based preservatives in their production. It is worth noting that plant essential oils (EOs) among the natural-based substances have been efficiently used as antimicrobial agents against phyto- and food pathogens. The current study was conducted to evaluate the microbial contamination of three industrial meat products from five governorates in Egypt, identify the predominant bacterial and fungal isolates and determine the antimicrobial efficacy of some EOs (thyme, fennel, anise and marjoram) against the most predominant microbial isolates. A sensory test was also performed to estimate the customer preferences for specific organoleptic aspects of meat products after EOs treatment. Results showed that there is a promising antimicrobial activity of all studied EOs against some microbial isolates in a dose-dependent manner. In particular, thyme EO showed the highest significant antibacterial activity against P. fluorescence and E. coli. Whereas the marjoram EO showed the highest activity against P. aeruginosa. In addition, the sensory test revealed that the treatment with anise and marjoram EOs showed the highest acceptability by the testers and did not show significant differences on the organoleptic properties with respect to control. As overall, the obtained results of the current research are promising and proved feasibility of employing plant EOs as possible preservatives for processed meat products.
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