For the last ten years, research on new food packaging materials has focused on extending the shelf life and prolonging the freshness of packaged products for as long as possible. In finding new materials from alternative sources of petroleum by-products to minimise the environmental impact of the packaging, also.
Active packaging has been developed to extend the shelf life of food, from where it is stored to its final consumption. Antimicrobial and antifungal substances such as Natamycin are added to the products to prevent contamination of the packaged product as much as possible. This is especially important for those with the greatest added value or the shortest shelf life.
In packaging with alternative materials, organic materials such as chitosan which is a derivative of chitin, nature’s second most abundant polysaccharide after cellulose, provide the best results. Other materials are derived from corn, wheat and others such as the milk protein casein.
There is widespread agreement that the best results are obtained with a combination of the new materials and natural additives. A chitosan film associated with nisin, Natamycin, pomegranate and grape seed extract to lengthen the storage time of wild strawberries has been studied.
The advantages of organic materials for packaging is that they biodegrade much more quickly, and are even edible in the form of invisible films that cover some types of foods, and the chitosan mentioned above is applied in these cases.
A chart with the main characteristics that make this biopolymer the benchmark for the new generation of food industry packaging is shown below.
The application of chitosan seems to be aimed at the marketing of cut, peeled and packaged fruit.
These protective films have been applied extensively to fruit and vegetables in the food industry. Oranges and limes were immersed in wax to delay the dehydration of these fruits in China centuries ago