AsianScientist (Feb. 29, 2016) – Researchers in Singapore have successfully developed a natural chitosan-based composite film with grapefruit seed extract for use as an environmentally-friendly food packaging material. Free from chemical additives, this material can slow down fungal growth, doubling the shelf-life of perishable food such as bread. Their work was published in Materials Research Bulletin.
Chitosan, a natural polymer derived from the shells of shrimp and other crustaceans, has immense potential for applications in food technology—it is biocompatible, non-toxic, biodegrades in a short time and possesses excellent film-forming ability. It is also inherently antimicrobial and antifungal. Grapefruit seed extract is antioxidant and possesses strong antiseptic, germicidal, anti-bacterial, fungicidal and anti-viral properties.
Developed by a research team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the film is about as strong and flexible as the synthetic polyethylene film commonly used for food packaging. Additionally, it effectively blocks ultraviolet light, hence slowing down the degradation of food products.
Findings of their study showed that the shelf-life of bread samples packaged with the film was twice as long as those packaged using synthetic packaging film.
“Increasing attention has been placed on the development of food packaging material with antimicrobial and antifungal properties, in order to improve food safety, extend shelf-life and to minimize the use of chemical preservatives,” said corresponding author, Associate Professor Thian Eng San from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NUS.
“Consumers are also demanding that packaging materials be formulated from natural materials that are environmentally friendly and biodegradable, while improving food preservation. This novel food packaging material that we have developed has the potential to be a useful material in food technology.”
In future studies, the team will look into the degradability of chitosan-based grapefruit seed extract films, as well as carry out an accelerated shelf life study to examine the extent of microbial growth and quality changes during storage of various food products.
The article can be found at: Tan et al. (2015) Functional Chitosan-based Grapefruit Seed Extract Composite Films for Applications in Food Packaging Technology.
Source: National University of Singapore; Photo: Alpha/Flickr/CC.
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