The present study evaluated the effects of thyme and balm essential oils on the 3-wk storage of fresh chicken breast meat at 4 °C. Thyme and, to a lesser extent, balm essential oils reduced DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) radical formation in the meat (25% to 30% and 20%, respectively). Treatment with the 2 essential oils also limited lipid peroxidation and the deterioration of sarcoplasmic proteins, helping to preserve the meat even after 2 wk of storage. Thyme and balm essential oils decreased the natural microflora present in the meat; total microbial content decreased down to 50% in comparison to the control samples. In addition, a clear effect on lactic acid bacterial growth was recorded. Balm essential oil significantly limited the growth of Salmonella sp., whereas thyme essential oil effectively inhibited the growth of Escherichia coli. Our data demonstrate that these 2 essential oils effectively reduced deteriorative processes in chicken meat and extended the shelf life of this fresh product. Practical Application: The essential oils of thyme and balm can protect the chicken meat from decomposition during the storage time.
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