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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: December 01, 2021

Recent advances in edible food packaging

Packaging helps keep food safe from spoilage, and currently, many food items are wrapped in plastic. But growing concerns about the effects of plastic when it ends up in the environment have prompted researchers to explore alternative packaging materials, including those that can be eaten right along with the foods they are protecting. Below are some recent papers published in ACS journals that report on progress toward edible food packaging materials.

“Bioactive Peptides: A Promising Alternative to Chemical Preservatives for Food Preservation”
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Oct. 14, 2021

In this review of bioactive peptides, researchers describe the benefits of using these compounds to preserve food. They also discuss the latest research to incorporate them into edible films and coatings, which can transport these additives to the foods they protect.

“Laccase-Catalyzed Grafting of Lauryl Gallate on Chitosan To Improve Its Antioxidant and Hydrophobic Properties”
Biomacromolecules
Oct. 3, 2021

Chitosan, a chemically modified form of chitin, which is commonly obtained from the exoskeletons of sea creatures such as crabs and shrimp, is being pursued by many researchers as a basis for plastic alternatives. Here, researchers added a phenolic compound called lauryl gallate to chitosan with a process called grafting, and showed that the resulting material has the potential to be used as an edible coating.

“Plasticization Efficiency and Characteristics of Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, and Low-Molecular-Weight Polysaccharides for Starch-Based Materials”
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Aug. 26, 2021

As a step toward a new packaging material, these researchers evaluated various sugar molecules as plasticizers, or molecules that could make starch-based films more flexible. Starch is biodegradable and edible, and therefore is a good candidate for packaging that people can consume.

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