It seems that packaging’s work is never done! Not only does it need to extend shelf life, look attractive and be made from eco-friendly materials that can be recycled, it also now needs to kill the bacteria that could make us sick!
“Healthy packaging” is the latest trend to hit the food-packaging world. One of the most exciting developments in this area comes from a group of Canadian scientists, who’ve developed a wrapping for food that actually kills the bacteria that cause food contamination.
It may sound like something from a science fiction movie, but incredibly, it’s not – it’s real and it’s happening in our lifetime. What an exciting time to be in the food packaging industry!
How Does It Work?
This amazing healthy packaging works by using bacteriophages to kill harmful bacteria. Phages are actually viruses that are naturally present on fresh produce. They are extremely clever in that they only kill harmful bacteria, which is great news for the cheese and yoghurt industry, for example, as they use “good” bacteria to give their products their distinctive taste and texture.
The phages are embedded into sugar glass, which is a type of soluble film made from pullulan (a polysaccharide used to preserve fruit and eggs) and trehalose (a sugar used as a stabilising agent in the freeze-drying of food. Used individually, these two compounds are not effective, but combining them makes them stable and effective for up to three months.
Other Exciting Healthy Packaging Innovations
Most of us wash fruit and vegetables before we use them. But when you think about it, fresh produce is watered regularly as it grows and stands out in the rain before being harvested, so that hasty little rinse won’t protect you against every kind of nasty that could be lurking on your produce – especially E.coli.
This is why scientists from the Agricultural Research Service, in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture, are developing new packaging that will contain chlorine dioxide – a gas that not only kills E.Coli but other harmful pathogens as well. If released too quickly, however, the gas can burn the fresh produce. This is why scientists are working on packaging that has a semi-permeable membrane so that the gas is released more slowly.
The idea is that the chlorine dioxide will be packaged in small (about the size of a credit card) pouches, made using this breathable membrane. A few of these pouches will be packed into the crates in which the fresh produce is being transported. They will slowly release their pathogen-killing gas during transportation.
2018 promises to be a very exciting year for the food packaging industry, and you can trust Mapflex to continue bringing you the latest and most scientifically advanced modified atmosphere packaging products available. For more information, please contact us today.