In the modern world, consumption of packaged foods by people has been increased day by day. However, the most significant hurdle of the food industry is the limited shelf life of packaged food products due to contamination by food spoiling pathogens which results in a global public health issue, trade, and the economy. Given access to improper food preservation, bacteria and fungi rapidly colonize, increase in population leading to food spoilage (Hammond et al., 2015). The World Health Organization reported that unsafe food resulted in the illnesses of at least 2 billion people worldwide annually and could be deadly (Sharif, Mustapha, Mohd.Yusof, & Zaki, 2017).
Addition of synthetic antimicrobial agents effectively controls the growth of food contaminants and extends the shelf life of foods (Irkin & Esmer, 2015). Recent toxicological studies indicated that specific concentrations of synthetic preservatives and their continuous use might potentially be mutagenic and genotoxic. For example, Sales et al (2018) recently proved that artificial synthetic additives induced the formation of micronuclei in the bone marrow erythrocytes and believed as cytotoxic and genotoxic in the animal study.
This apprehension led the consumers for demand of additional natural preservatives that might be nontoxic and proved to be excellent defence against microbial attack (Gyawali & Ibrahim, 2014; Brandelli &Taylor, 2015; Piran, Kafil, Ghanbarzadeh, Safdari, & Hamishehkar, 2017). Therefore, search for new alternatives to preserve foods is of great interest in the food industry. Natural antimicrobials attracted considerable attention in the food industry because these substances would not cause any toxic or undesirable effect on the consumers (Brandelli & Taylor, 2015; Wang et al., 2018). Natural bioactive compounds from many plants, bacteria and animal sources for food application have been extensively studied by various researchers and reported the possibility of commercial use.
However, each source has own disadvantages bottlenecking 100% usage for commercial purposes. Most of the essential oils from plants show instability (Moghimipour, Aghel, Mahmoudabadi, Ramezani, & Handali, 2012) and very less effect against gram-negative bacteria (Tiwari et al., 2009; Naik, Fomda, Jaykumar, & Bhat, 2010; Nazzaro, Martino, Coppola, & Feo, 2013). Moreover, overuse of bacteriocins can lead to resistant pathogens (Cavera, Arthur, Kashtanov, & Chikindas, 2015) and loss in their activity by proteolytic enzymes (Bradshaw, 2003; Fahim, Khairalla, & El-Gendy, 2016).
Some of the animal sourced antimicrobial peptides like lysozyme and pleurocidin did not show strong effects on gram-negative bacteria (Aloui & Khwaldia, 2016) and was inhibited by magnesium and calcium in foods limiting the use (Tiwari et al., 2009). There is an urgent need of using new and alternative compound against the above mentioned antimicrobial agents. In the recent years, seaweeds have been recognized as one of the wealthiest and the most unexplored new source of antimicrobial compounds and nanofibers for therapeutics and food preservation.
This review focused on various antimicrobial compounds extracted from marine algae, their biochemical compositions and antimicrobial activities against food pathogens. Also, this article pivots the potential use of marine algae for nanofiber synthesis used for incorporating antimicrobial agents for greater delivery and stability during food preservation.