Bread sitting on your counter can get moldy in just a few days. But a new type of packaging could extend freshness up to 10 days.

The secret ingredient: cinnamon oil, known to be a natural antimocrobial.

Researchers in Spain developed a new type of paper packaging with the oil, and it appears to be safe and environmentally friendly, they write in the Aug. 13 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Scientists have tried many different approaches for fighting mold growth in bread, including ultraviolet light, sterile packaging, and the use of chemical preservatives. So-called active packaging, which attacks bread mold with antimicrobials, may provide a better alternative, say the researchers, led by Cristina Nerín at University of Zaragoza.

They inoculated fresh white bread with a common mold species and stored the bread in either plain wax paper or cinnamon-based wax paper for several days. After just three days, the packaging containing just 6 percent cinnamon oil inhibited 96 percent of mold growth, whereas the plain wax paper did not prevent mold growth, the researchers say.

The cinnamon-based wrapper continued to inhibit mold for up to 10 days.

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