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Edible coatings will be the packaging of the future

The growing demand by consumers for healthier and more ecological foods has driven researchers to develop new systems of packaging that prolong the useful life of the products and that are, at the same time, recyclable. Protection is currently carried out with a mixture of synthetic chemical compounds that are not completely biodegradable. One of the most popular alternatives in the last few years is the edible coating ?a transparent film that covers the food item and acts as a barrier to humidity and oxygen. Moreover, these films can be used as a host for additives in the conservation of the properties of the product or simply in order to improve its appearance.

This was the subject of the PhD thesis by Navarre chemist, Javier Osés Fernández, at the Public University of Navarre. In the research, various edible coatings were analysed ?all based on proteins extracted from milk serum (whey protein isolate or WPI), mesquite gum and starch - with the objective of evaluating their possible food applications.

The PhD, entitled "Development, characterisation and applications for foodstuffs of edible coatings based on milk serum proteins, starch and mesquite gum".

Mesquite gum, an efficacious and cheap solution

To test the efficacy of the edible coatings compared to synthetic packaging, Javier Osés prepared a number of samples of milk serum protein films, of mesquite gum and of starch, and stored them for six months at different humidity levels.

The first conclusion from the study is that, depending on the type of plastifier used, the mechanical properties change with the passage of time. Thus, those films with sorbitol plastifier underwent variation in their mechanical properties, i.e. their flexibility; while those containing glycerol did not alter their composition. Once the ideal plastifier for the coating was determined, it was observed that, in order to improve malleability, it was necessary to introduce a lot of glyc
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Source:Elhuyar Fundazioa


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