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ABSTRACT Food grade monolaurin (the glycerol monoester of lauric acid) microemulsions (MMEs) based on multicomponent mixtures and the effects of MMEs on the shelf life of fresh noodles were studied. A microemulsion system consisting of monolaurin (M), surfactants (Tween 20 and Tween 80, Wenzhou Qingming Chemical Engineering Company, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China ) and cosurfactant (pentanol and dodecanol) dispersed in distilled water was used. The influence of surfactants on the phase behavior was studied in this article. Subsequently, two MMEs with large oil in water regions have demonstrated the enhanced antimicrobial activities against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Aspergillus niger and Penicillium digitatum, compared to monolaurin (M) alone. In addition, the shelf life of fresh noodles prepared with monolaurin (M) alone was about 4 days, whereas MMEs extended shelf life by 10 days at least when stored at 37C. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS The effect of monolaurin microemulsion (MME) as antimicrobial agents in foods, especially those neutral foods such as noodles, is obvious, and MME has demonstrated a much longer shelf life of fresh noodles than M alone. In addition, for those neutral foods other than fresh noodles, the application of MMEs can also be studied.