The antimicrobial effects of free fatty acids are well recognised and these compounds can prevent the growth of
or directly kill bacteria, fungi and other microbes by affecting multiple cellular targets, including the cell membrane and
components found therein. Moreover, fatty acids exert detrimental effects on microbial pathogens by interfering with
mechanisms of virulence, such as preventing biofilm formation and inhibiting the production of toxins and enzymes. The
antimicrobial properties of free fatty acids can be exploited for the preservation of perishable products, such as food and
cosmetics, and for the prevention and treatment of infections. These safe natural products are particularly useful in circumstances
where antimicrobial activity is required but where the use of conventional antibiotics is undesirable or forbidden.
This review focuses on the most promising prospects for exploiting the antimicrobial properties of free fatty acids for
applications in various industries. The benefits of using fatty acids as antimicrobial agents are discussed and relevant recent
patents are highlighted.
Keywords: Antibacterial, antifungal, decolonisation, disinfectant, growth promoter, lauric acid, mastitis, wound therapy
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