Essential Oil Microemulsions and Plant Extracts to Prevent Biofilm Formation

Case ID:

This technology surrounds the usage of plant extract microemulsions for the prevention of biofilm formation on food contact surfaces and medical devices. These microemulsions are non-toxic, plant-based, and are effective against known biofilm-forming pathogens such as Salmonella sp., E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes. This invention presents a safe and natural way to prevent the formation of biofilms, thereby reducing the risk of contamination of ready-to-eat food products and potentially medical devices.



The term “biofilm” refers to a colony of prokaryotic organisms that have aggregated together, forming a thick film with a protective layer of polysaccharide that is tightly adhered to a surface. Biofilms are particularly troublesome because when protected by the polysaccharide matrix, the bacteria inside can become up to 1,000 times more resistant to disinfectants than when suspended. As a result, biofilms can be difficult to remove once formed, and represent a source of contamination in both the food and medical device industries that can be very challenging to eliminate.


Biofilms are a serious issue in both the medical device and food industries. In the early 2000s, 50-70% of hospital acquired infections manifesting between 2 and 30 days were implant-associated, representing 1-1.4 million cases. Treatment of biofilms in medical devices is very challenging as the above current techniques for removal, such as the use of disinfectants, cannot be used in humans, and antibiotics are often ineffective. Often, surgical replacement must take place if symptoms persist, which can be expensive and risky.


In the food industry, biofilms can cause outbreaks of disease if the food product becomes contaminated. Biofilms in food production and processing are usually chemically treated, with chlorine-based sanitizers being the most common. Hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and quaternary ammonium compounds are also often used.


The most effective treatment of biofilms is to prevent bacteria from attaching to the surface and initiating the formation of the biofilm. This invention can prevent biofilm formation, and is likely to be safe for use in both the food industry and medical devices.



  • Biofilm prevention on food-contacting surfaces in food production and processing
  • Biofilm prevention on medical devices


  • Non-toxic (can be used in medical devices in the human body and in food)
  • Natural and “green” appeal
  • Easily-sourced components
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tod McCauley
Assistant Director of Licensing, CALS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Sadhana Ravishankar
Govindaraj Dev Kumar
Aishwarya Rao
Richard Park