Scientists Develop Clay-Based Packaging Film to Keep Food Fresh

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Scientists have developed a clay-based packaging film to improve the shelf life of food, according to a study conducted on August 21, 2017.

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 30 to 40 percent food produced in the U.S. by farmers goes to waste. Several methods to preserve food are being developed by scientists and their main focus is on packaging. The progress of these researches have been hindered by many issues. Apart from making films which keeps the fruits and vegetables from drying out, the main challenge is to bring in the same film with other properties.

The main issues that are being addressed by the scientists are contamination caused by bacteria and permeability to both oxygen and water vapor. They are also working on preventing the building up of ethylene around foods. Fruits and vegetables releases ethylene which helps in the process of ripening, however, if excess amount of ethylene is trapped between the packaging and food, the food gets rotten and over ripened.

Researchers integrated clay halloysite nanotubes into the polyethylene film. These nanotubes are small, hollow cylinders which are capable of preventing the entry of oxygen into the film and escape of water vapor and other gases. Also, they absorb ethylene and prevent it from building up around foods. The nanotubes were filled with an antibacterial essential oil called carvacrol and the inner surface of the film was coated with the nanotubes for killing the microbes.

To test the effectiveness of this film, researchers wrapped tomatoes, bananas and chicken with this film. Tomatoes wrapped with the new film showed better results compared to the ones wrapped with polyethylene. Bananas wrapped with new film were observed to be more firm and bacterial growth in chicken wrapped with the new film was comparatively less.

Once these packaging films are commercialized, an increase in the growth of global plastic packaging market will be observed, as detailed in the global plastic packaging market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

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