American scientists have developed a biodegradable vegetable coating that protects food from spoilage. It has benefits to the environment as well as to human health.
Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists describe a process in which a filamentous material is spun from a device comparable to a hair dryer. This results in a shrink film that can be used on top of foods of all kinds, from avocado to sirloin.
health and environment
The film is strong enough to protect fruits and vegetables from damage and brown spots during transportation. But in addition, the fiber is enriched with natural antibacterial ingredients such as thymic acid, citric acid and the natural preservative nisin. The substances prevent not only spoilage, but also germs such as Escherichia coli and Listeria. The study showed that avocados stay fresh on average 50 percent longer thanks to tin foil.
But the new technology also has many advantages for the environment. The fiber can be produced from crop waste, so no need for oil. Moreover, there is no waste: the paint can simply be rinsed off with water and decomposes in the soil within three days.
smart and green
“I’m not against plastic,” said Philip Democrito, a nanotechnology expert at the Harvard School of Public Health. “But I am against the plastic from the petroleum that we keep throwing away, of which only a portion is recycled. In the last 50 to 60 years – the age of plastic – we have dumped 6 billion tons of plastic waste into our environment. It’s slowly humiliating there. And the smallest fragments end up in The water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.”
“What we have developed is a scalable technology that allows us to extract biopolymers from food waste through a circular economy, and process them into smart fibers that can directly encapsulate food. This is part of a new generation of smart and green packaging.”