These would be: nanoparticles; encapsulation and controlled release; microalgae and marine microorganisms; and mechanisms that stop bacteria communicating with each other (quorum sensing), said LFR food safety head Evangelina Komitopoulou.
The main challenge in the area of encapsulation and controlled release of antimicrobials was how long the release process took, said Komitopoulou. Meanwhile, the viability and safety of nanoparticles, such as silver, will be further scrutinised in Europe and the UK.
"Microalgae is an area we feel will attract a lot of attention; mainly for their use against bacteria," she said.
Studies into quorum sensing worked on the premise that inhibiting bacterial communication would impede their growth, she added.
LFR would be looking into the effectiveness of potential quorum sensing inhibitor components in ingredients such as garlic, beansprout, vanilla extract and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), she said. Plant extracts currently showing promising antibacterial properties included primrose, essential oils from magnolia bark and the eucalyptus family, and agave, which also demonstrated strong antifungal activity, she added.
Soft drink companies and dairy companies were the ones currently most interested in natural antimicrobials, reported Komitopoulou.