Food proteins are a rich source of bioactive peptides. These compounds have many properties, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory activities. They are also useful as binders and carriers of minerals. This multifunctional activity makes them a valuable component of a healthy diet. Peptides are found in milk proteins (caseins and whey), eggs, fish, and meat, as well as legumes.
Several studies have investigated the use of antimicrobial peptides in food preservation. One method is direct application, in which the peptide is added to the food matrix directly. Another method involves inoculating a food matrix with a strain of bacteriocins, which produces the antimicrobial peptide in situ. Ex situ production involves growing the producer strain on a food-grade substrate. This method also allows the peptide to be concentrated, which is then added to food products.
Peptides are chains of amino acids that act as a first chemical barrier against microbial attack. Most living organisms produce these molecules as part of their defense system against bacteria and other microorganisms. Some peptides are lab-made and are used in drugs to treat various diseases. Others have potential benefits for weight loss, muscle growth, and skin health.
Antimicrobial peptides have multiple applications in food and packaging. In addition to protecting foods, they can also inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. Antimicrobial peptides are increasingly used in packaging materials.