Testing for Micro-Organisms in Essential Oils

The antimicrobial activity of plant extracts, is often due to the essential oil fraction or sulfur-containing compounds in the aqueous phase. In the past, essential oils were used widely in medicines. The antimicrobial activity of essential oils has long been known and tested in vitro against pathogenic fungi and bacteria. Testing the quality of essential oils for the presence of bio-hazardous microbes can be done with microbial analysis. This test will confirm, if the oil is sterile or polluted with pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or mold. 

What is a microbial analysis of essential oils?

This quality assurance test involves analyzing a batch of essential oils. The process is based on drawing a sample from this batch to add it to a sterile medium that promotes growth in an enclosed petri dish. Then the sample is incubated for a certain period, to observe the development of micro-organisms.

This test is first performed upon receiving the samples at the manufacturing facility. And later performed on the end product, before dispatch. This ensures the oil is not contaminated during the filling and tagging process.

Risk factors: Absence of microbial analysis.

With multiple health benefits of essential oils having been revealed, their usage as supplements is on the rise universally. At this time, the lack of quality assurance of these concentrated plant extracts may pose several risks to human health.

  1. Risks by health applications

The risk of microbial contamination may excessively impact the elderly population. Due to aging, they are more susceptible and sensitive to health complications. Moreover, with the increase in the pervasiveness of acute and chronic diseases, it’s critical to consider their healthcare needs.

So, the presence of microbial contaminants for medicinal use can badly affect the health status of their user, given their compromised immunity and microbial infections.

2. Risks imposed by cleaning applications

Bacterial species like Escherichia Coli, Bile­ tolerant Gram­ negative bacteria ( Coliform), Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, norovirus, etc. leads to pathogenic food-borne diseases in humans. They may likely infect when the contaminated oils are used for cleaning kitchen utensils, granite tops, cutting boards, etc.

The most prevalent food-borne diseases caused due to these pathogens are campylobacteriosis, cyclosporiasis, Giardiasis, Listeriosis, cryptosporidiosis, etc.

3.  Risks of microbial contamination in skincare

Harmful microbes growing on your skin might cause acne and irritation. While Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is known to cause skin infections, other common skin conditions like impetigo, cellulitis, erysipelas, folliculitis, furuncles, and carbuncles may also develop.

Since multiple uses of essential oils in the area of cleaning, health and wellness, DIY skincare, aromatherapy etc. can be limited due to microbial contamination resulting from it. Therefore, the safety of essential oils consumers is of utmost importance, especially in the elderly population. So, the quality assurance of essential oils during industrialization, and before marketing is crucial to ensure its clarity from defects. Notably, quality products result in satisfied users along with recurring purchases, upsell and promotion.