Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Edible coatings will be the packaging of the future

05.09.2006
The growing demand by consumers for healthier and more ecological foods has driven researchers to develop new systems of packaging that prolong the useful life of the products and that are, at the same time, recyclable. Protection is currently carried out with a mixture of synthetic chemical compounds that are not completely biodegradable. One of the most popular alternatives in the last few years is the edible coating – a transparent film that covers the food item and acts as a barrier to humidity and oxygen. Moreover, these films can be used as a host for additives in the conservation of the properties of the product or simply in order to improve its appearance.

This was the subject of the PhD thesis by Navarre chemist, Javier Osés Fernández, at the Public University of Navarre. In the research, various edible coatings were analysed – all based on proteins extracted from milk serum (whey protein isolate or WPI), mesquite gum and starch - with the objective of evaluating their possible food applications.

The PhD, entitled “Development, characterisation and applications for foodstuffs of edible coatings based on milk serum proteins, starch and mesquite gum”.

Mesquite gum, an efficacious and cheap solution

... more about:
»Conservation »PhD »WPI »humidity »mesquite

To test the efficacy of the edible coatings compared to synthetic packaging, Javier Osés prepared a number of samples of milk serum protein films, of mesquite gum and of starch, and stored them for six months at different humidity levels.

The first conclusion from the study is that, depending on the type of plastifier used, the mechanical properties change with the passage of time. Thus, those films with sorbitol plastifier underwent variation in their mechanical properties, i.e. their flexibility; while those containing glycerol did not alter their composition. Once the ideal plastifier for the coating was determined, it was observed that, in order to improve malleability, it was necessary to introduce a lot of glycerol. However, using high quantities of plastifier in a coating results in an increase in its permeability to water vapour, and its applications are thus very limited. In order to set this deficiency off, mesquite gum was incorporated into the milk serum protein. This is a polysaccharide that grows in dry and semi-arid regions of the north of Mexico. The result is a compound film that is resistant and that maintains suitable mechanical properties. The use of mesquite gum is an economical and efficacious alternative with a promising future, not only for food conservation, but it could also become an economic resource for indigenous peoples, currently marginalized, as well as having the effect of reducing the desertisation of the soil.

The edible coating of fruit is currently the best-known example of the application. However, it is a packaging system particularly efficacious for conserving foodstuffs that are high in polysaturated fatty acids, susceptible to oxidation, such as nuts, meat and certain fish such as salmon.

In his PhD, Javier Osés evaluated to what extent the edible films which he had developed were able to protect fatty foods. To this end, he used a model foodstuff – sunflower oil. In a first stage, trials were carried out with WPI coatings. Results showed that the protection capacity of the film depended on the amount of plastifier in the film, on its thickness and on the relative humidity of storage of the foodstuff. Thus, the most efficient WPI films were those of greater thickness, with less amount of plastifier and that had been exposed to low relative humidity.

The second stage involved a similar experiment, but with films made of starch, known to be an efficient barrier to oxygen, and with which trials were undertaken. In this case, the thickness of the film did not influence the protector effect on the oil, but it was shown that starch films are more effective in ambiences with high relative humidity.

The final part of the PhD outlined the application of edible coatings with WPI on chicken breasts. The aim was to analyse the effect on their aspect and their properties. At the same time, the experiment was used to incorporate nisine, an antioxidant agent that penetrates the foodstuff little by little and thus offers an ongoing protection. The idea was to extend the conservation time for a chicken breast would go from the current 7 days to 15, but the results were negative. However, a very interesting line of research was opened as it has been shown that the coating formed a second skin on the breast and onto which various additives, such as antimicrobians, can be added

Despite the fact that the coatings did not manage to reduce microbian evolution, it has been shown that the WPI forms a film on chicken breasts which is homogeneous, transparent, has good adhesion and is not easily perceived by the naked eye.

The future of packaging

Currently, the three systems of conservation most used by the food industry are vacuum packing, nitrogen sweeping and aluminium foil. The Pamplona research chemist holds that WPI films are the packaging of the future, although the commercial exploitation of the application is yet to materialize. There are many possibilities – on the one hand, they will prolong the useful life of foodstuffs in a healthy way and, on the other, they will be very beneficial for the environment given that they will reduce the use of plastics.

Despite the advantages presented by the experts, there exists a number of obstacles to the full development of this alternative system. The main one is that of cost. As edible coatings are still in the research stage, enterprises do not have the technology needed to apply the system. For the moment, its current use is restricted to products with high added-value. This is why, amongst the most immediate projects of the research team from the Food Technology Area at the University, is the application of edible films to turrón (sweet nougat), in order to eliminate the aluminium foil currently used to protect it and so that the product would have only one protective coating. This project is still in the study phase.

Irati Kortabitarte | alfa
Further information:
http://www.basqueresearch.com

Further reports about: Conservation PhD WPI humidity mesquite

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>