A group of scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have discovered a plant-based food preservative which the group claims is more effective than it artificial counterparts.

The plant-based food preservative comprises of naturally-occurring substances known as flavonoids, which are a diverse group of phytonutrients found in most fruits and vegetables.

With strong anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, the newly discovered preservatives can prevent bacterial growth to keep food fresher for longer.

During tests carried out by the scientists, the plant-based preservatives outperformed all of its artificial counterparts. The plant-based chemical was able to keep samples fresh for two days during the test, whereas other test subjects succumbed to bacteria within just six hours.

“The organic food preservatives are derived from plants and produced from food grade microbes, which mean that it is 100 per cent natural. It is more effective than artificial preservatives and does not require any further processing to keep food fresh,” explained William Chen, director of NTU’s Food and Science Technology Programme.

A naturally occurring chemical, flavonoids are responsible for defending plants against pathogens, herbivores and pests. They are also responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their vivid colours. Flavonoids have not yet been used as a preservative for food as they require further processing before that can alleviate bacteria.

The discovery comes after an announcement was released by the American Academy of Paediatrics which voiced concerns about chemicals found to be in food preservatives, practically meat products.