Food spoilage makes foods undesirable and unacceptable for human use. The preservation of food is essential for human survival, and different techniques were initially used to limit the growth of spoiling microbes, e.g., drying, heating, salting, or fermentation. Water activity, temperature, redox potential, preservatives, and competitive microorganisms are the most important approaches used in the preservation of food products. Preservative agents are generally classified into antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-browning agents. On the other hand, artificial preservatives (sorbate, sulfite, or nitrite) may cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, asthma, neurological damage, hyperactivity, and cancer. Thus, consumers prefer natural food preservatives to synthetic ones, as they are considered safer. Polyphenols have potential uses as biopreservatives in the food industry, because their antimicrobial and antioxidant activities can increase the storage life of food products. The antioxidant capacity of polyphenols is mainly due to the inhibition of free radical formation. Moreover, the antimicrobial activity of plants and herbs is mainly attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds. Thus, incorporation of botanical extracts rich in polyphenols in perishable foods can be considered since no pure polyphenolic compounds are authorized as food preservatives. However, individual polyphenols can be screened in this regard. In conclusion, this review highlights the use of phenolic compounds or botanical extracts rich in polyphenols as preservative agents with special reference to meat and dairy products.
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