New Biodegradable, Sustainable and Microbe-Killing Food Packaging
A team of scientists have discovered a biodegradable, sustainable food packaging material that destroys microorganisms that are dangerous to people.
The natural food packaging is made of zein, a type of corn protein, starch, and other naturally generated biopolymers that have been infused with a cocktail of antimicrobial chemicals (see video). Citric acid, which is often present in citrus fruits, and oil from thyme, a common plant used in cooking, are two of them.
The fibres in the packaging have been demonstrated in lab trials to release natural antibacterial chemicals when subjected to an increase in humidity or enzymes from harmful bacteria, killing typical dangerous bacteria that contaminate food, including E. coli and Listeria, as well as fungi.
The container is designed to release the required small amounts of antimicrobial chemicals only when more humidity or bacteria are present. This guarantees that the package will withstand several exposures and will last for months.
The chemicals have the potential to be utilized for a wide range of items, including ready-to-eat foods, raw meat, fruits, and vegetables, because they target bacteria that develop on the surface of the packaging as well as on the food product itself.
Strawberries wrapped in the packaging stayed fresh for seven days before growing mould in a trial, compared to strawberries placed in standard fruit plastic boxes, which only lasted four days.