No one wants food that has gone mouldy – least of all when they have only just purchased the product. But consumers are not exactly wild about food preservatives either. Packaging researchers are now introducing coated films to fight the battle of the bacteria.
At first glance, food packaging and an operating theater don’t have much in common. But when you look at the elaborate procedures that are used in sterilising packaging materials, the operating theatre analogy is not so far-fetched after all. Bacteria settle themselves at the exact spot where the foodstuff touches the packaging, and multiply rapidly from there. To put paid to the unwanted settlers, film-packaged foodstuffs often contain added food preservatives such as benzoic or sorbic acid. However, discerning consumers prefer to have as few additives as possible in their food.
This is why scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, working in the Alliance for Polymer Surfaces POLO, have opted for a different way of scaring off the moulds and microbes. Instead of adding preservatives to the food, they coat the packaging film with them. “This places the substances directly at the surface of the foodstuff, which is where they need to act,” explains group leader Dieter Sandmeier. “In that way we can cut food preservatives to a minimum.” The coating layer is applied using special techniques and materials based on substances such as Ormocers®.
Johannes Ehrlenspiel | alfa
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