- Most food packaging materials are non-biodegradable and
- Plastic food packaging creates tons of waste and affects the
- Edible food packaging film helps prevent such harmful effects
- Milk-based edible films are 500 times better than plastic food
Food items that
are consumed within minutes leave behind the packaging on the Earth for years.
Most of the food products sold are wrapped in plastic
packaging, which is a non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste. Studies have
shown that some plastic packaging could leach harmful compounds into food.
and scientists have been working together to find a solution to reduce food
packaging waste. How about food packaging
that one could actually
consume? A group of scientists have developed edible
packaging film made of milk proteins.
Eat the Food and the Package
team at the US Department of Agriculture have developed an eco-friendly edible film made from milk
protein casein. The milk-based casein films keep oxygen away from food and are
500 times better than plastics. Casein films are biodegradable, sustainable and
protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food
spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during
distribution along the food chain," says research leader Peggy Tomasula,
varieties are already available in the market, but, these are made of starch.
Starch-based edible food packaging is more porous and allows oxygen to seep
through its micro-holes. The milk-based edible
packaging has smaller pores and creates a tighter network that keeps oxygen
first developed an edible film using pure casein that was a strong and
effective oxygen blocker. But, it was hard to handle as it dissolved in water
instantly. So the researchers used citrus pectin to the casein to make the
packaging stronger and resistant to humidity and high temperatures.
packaging looks similar to a plastic wrap, but it is less stretchy and blocks
oxygen more efficiently. Because the casein film is made of proteins, the
researchers hope to incorporate nutritional additives such as vitamins,
probiotics, and nutraceuticals. The researchers said that the casein film does
not have a taste, but flavoring can be added to it to make it appetizing.
Bonnaillie, Ph.D., co-leader of the study, said, "The coatings
applications for this product are endless. We are currently testing
applications such as single-serve, edible food wrappers. For instance,
individually wrapped cheese sticks use a large proportion of plastic -- we
would like to fix that."
Casein Coating Spray
could also be sprayed onto food such as cereal bars and flakes. Food
manufacturing industries use sugar coating on cereals to maintain its crunch
when added to milk. Casein spray could be a nutritious alternative to sugar and
prevent soggy cereal.
The casein spray
could also be used to line pizza boxes to keep the grease from staining the
packaging. It can also be used as a lamination for paper and cardboard food
boxes and plastic pouches. Perfluorinated substances that are used to coat food
boxes have been banned by the US Food and Drug Administration. Thus, casein
coating can be utilized as a safe and biodegradable alternative.
team is creating prototype film samples for a small company in Texas, and the
development has garnered interest among other companies, too. We plan to keep
making improvements. This casein packaging will be on store shelves within
three years," said Bonnaillie.
- Edible food packaging made from milk proteins (video) - (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/acs-efp072116.php)