Recently, NUS (National University of Singapore) researchers have developed a food packaging material that is not only free of chemical additives, but purportedly eco-friendly as well, extending the shelf life of foods to double the original shelf life.
According to news reports, the packaging, developed by PhD student Ms Tan Yi Min and Associate professor Thian Eng San at the NUS Faculty of Engineering Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, the new environmentally friendly food packaging is created by fortifying natural chitosan-based composite film with GFSE, or grapefruit seed extract. This packaging material effectively doubles the perishable shelf-life of foods such as bread, as it is believed it slows fungal growth.
Chitosan originates in the shells of crustaceans such as shrimp, and is a biodegradable and natural polymer that offers exceptional film forming ability; it also offers inherent antifungal and antimicrobial properties, according to reports. Grapefruit seed extract is effective in packaging due to its germicidal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, making it an ideal component of food packaging materials.
Reportedly comparable to synthetic polyethylene, a film used frequently for the packaging of foods, the new composite film offers manufacturers the flexibility and mechanical strength but also prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it possible to double the shelf life of foods. In lab experiments, the shelf life of bread samples was extended to twice that of breads packaged with synthetic packaging films.
The research is more important now than ever, considering the demands of consumers that foods be packaged in natural materials that are capable of not only preserving foods, but that are biodegradable and eco-friendly. Tan Yi Min stated that the new eco-friendly packaging material would lead to economic and environmental benefits, reducing food waste and thereby reducing the rate of food loss on a global scale.
Ultimately, this new eco-friendly packaging could accomplish several things, including food safety, minimizing the need for chemical preservatives, and providing foods to consumers with a reduced risk of spoiling. Considering consumers have a growing interest in packaging that is biodegradable and made of natural materials, there are many benefits both economically and environmentally.
At REA JET, we are always interested in exciting new innovations in packaging, labeling, and traceability. We provide a wide variety of coding and marking solutions to many industries including food & beverage, plastics, pharmaceuticals, steel/metal, and more. You have real demands; we provide real solutions.