To preserve certain types of food such as fruits and vegetables, we often think of using films or plastic boxes. These are very effective in keeping products cool, but they produce a lot of waste that mostly end up in the environment. To try to minimize the impact of plastic, researchers from Harvard and Rutgers universities came up with the idea of creating a new type of eco-friendly packaging.
The new packaging is done herbal, and it is used in the form of a spray. With its antimicrobial properties, it is sprayed on food to keep it fresh. Before consuming, simply rinse with water to remove the coating.
According to the scientists behind this new invention, the coating is made of bio-polymer fibers. These fibers are impregnated natural antimicrobial agents such as thyme oil, citric acid and nisin. These agents allow the packaging to repel germs including E.coli and Listeria.
According to the researchers, this new coating for food can be easily produced on a large scale using a process called Focused Spinning. The coating can be spun from a heater that looks like a hair dryer and then applied to different types of food like fruits, vegetables and meat.
During testing, scientists found that the coating could extend the preservation of avocados by 50%. It could also prevent browning. With regard to environmental protection, the product can degrade in soil in just three days.
A revolutionary process
With the pollution caused by plastic, many scientists have already done research to try to find an eco-friendly alternative to plastic packaging. Researchers have already been able to develop films made with spider webs, shrimp shells, or even milk proteins. All of these products are made with waste.
Regarding the herbal coating, the researchers indicated that it was a scalable technology. This technology transforms bio-polymers, which can be recovered from food waste, into smart fibers which can wrap the food directly. According to them, the new coating is part of the next generation of “smart and eco-friendly” food packaging.