Essential oils were proposed as natural additives to ensure food safety and quality in a more sustainable approach. The chemical composition of Thymus vulgaris essential oil (TV-EO) collected from Morocco, its antioxidant and antimicrobial activity against different serotypes of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica was investigated. A mathematical model was implemented to predict the Salmonella behavior when exposed to TV-EO. In situ antimicrobial activity and sensory influence were tested in minced poultry meat experimentally contaminated with Salmonella and treated with TV-EO. Hydrodistillation was used to extract TV-EO, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis found thymol as the most representative compound. Results of the antioxidant activity showed an IC50 of 0.29 ± 0.04 mg/mL, EC50 of 0.74 ± 0.08 mg/mL, and RC50 of 0.59 ± 0.06 mg/mL. All the Salmonella strains were susceptible to TV-EO with performing results for the disc diffusion method (inhibition diameters ranged between 24 ± 0.4 mm and 32 ± 0.6 mm), determination of minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC; 0.5%) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC; 1%), sublethal-injured cells (7.99 ± 0.08%), in situ activity (growth inhibition after 3 days), and meat sensory preservation (up to 1 week). The implemented mathematical model well fitted the Salmonella growth curve. TV-EO with significant antioxidant and antibacterial activities was suitable to ensure food safety and quality consistent with the new sustainable trends in the food field.
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