Reports on the early use of spices or herbs as antimicrobial preservatives can be traced to 1550 BC, when ancient Egyptians used cinnamon and other spices both for food preservation and mummification.
Chamberlain (1887) first reported the antimicrobial activity of cinnamon oil against spores of anthrax bacilli. Chamberlain, M. (1887). Les essences au point de vue de leurs proprietes antiseptiques. Ann. Inst. Pasteur 1, 153-164.
Hoffman and Evans in 1911 were among the earliest to describe the preservative action of cinnamon, cloves, mustard, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper and cayenne pepper. (Hoffman, C and Evans, A.C (1911). The use of spices as preservatives. J. Indian Eng. Chem., 3, 835-838)
They found that cinnamon, cloves and mustard were most effective and ginger, black peer and cayenne pepper were least effective.
Bullerman (1964) reported that cinnamon in concentrations as low as 0.02% inhibited mold growth and aflatoxin production in culture media and cinnamon bread. (L. B Bullerman. Journal of Food Science Volume 39, Issue 6, pages 1163–1165, November 1974).
Cinnamon used as a preservative