Now that energy has become a world problem, cheap, effective chemical preservation is critical. This discussion forwards a new concept in food preservation. The concept is based on a ‘systems’ approach, using three common foodstuffs: monolaurin, food-grade phenolics and chelator, three multifunctional food materials, whose history as potential preservatives is reviewed. Although monolaurin (Lauricidin) is a Generally Recognized As Safe chemical, its use as part of a ‘preservative system’ is new. Comparisons of its germicidal activity by investigators have shown it to be more effective than proprionates, benzoates and even sorbic acid. The common antioxidants, tert-butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) or tert-butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) have been shown since 1967 to affect a number of different microorganisms, including viruses. The chelator ethylenediamineacetate (EDT A) has weak biocidal activity on its own but can potentiate the effect of the first two biocidal agents, particularly against gram-negative bacteria. The three common food chemicals therefore become part of a ‘preservative system’. The amount and ratio of one to the other is determined by the specific need for microbiological protection.

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