“In a different food system, this improvement in shelf life could be more or less pronounced depending on the food and storage conditions,” Elder says. “There are a variety of factors which would impact the ability of ARs to preserve foods as these factors might promote oxidation or might exhibit a synergistic or antagonistic interaction with ARs.”
Intrinsic factors include the composition of the food (e.g. water, carbohydrate, fat/oil, protein, vitamin/mineral content), while extrinsic factors include the storage conditions of the food (e.g. modified atmosphere packaging, light transmission through the packaging, storage temperature of the food).
“Current research indicates that ARs are likely responsible for the observed increase in shelf life of whole grain breads over refined flour (i.e. white) breads, where AR content is negligible, due to their antioxidant activity,” Elder says. “Our work focused on a very simple model food emulsion system in which we attempted to mimic the conditions of oil-in-water emulsions such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. It is possible that this work could be relevant to other food based emulsions such as creams, dips, soups, sauces, and certain beverages.”
Additionally, he believes, ARs could be effective antioxidants in bakery goods that contain incorporated oils and fats as these components can oxidize giving off flavors and previous work has established that ARs are likely responsible for the increased shelf life of whole grain baked goods.
“Finally, ARs might be applicable to the meat industry where processed meats (e.g. sausages), which are high in fat content, still use synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene to preserve product quality and ARs might be an effective, natural alternative,” Elder says. “However, further work needs to be done on ARs to understand their mode of antioxidant action, effective concentrations, etc.”