An international team of scientists from India and Russia has created edible food films for packaging fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood.
Films are made from natural ingredients and are safe for health and the environment. In addition, the films are water-soluble and dissolve almost 90% in 24 hours. A description of the study and experimental results are published in the Journal of Food Engineering.
“We have created three types of food films based on the well-known natural sodium alginate biopolymer of seaweed,” explains Rammohan Aluru, senior researcher at the organic synthesis laboratory of the Ural Federal University and co-author of the article. “Its molecules have film-forming properties. Sodium alginate is a favorable macromolecule of carbohydrates that has potential film-forming properties during hydrolysis and is present in large quantities in the cell walls as a mixture of various salts. The biggest advantage of sodium alginate is that it acts as a liquid-gel in an aqueous environment.”
Alginate molecules are cross-linked by the natural antioxidant ferulic acid. This makes the film not only strong, but also uniform, more rigid, and prolongs the life of the products.
“Food stays fresh longer due to antioxidant components that slow down oxidation processes,” emphasizes Grigory Zyryanov, professor at the Department of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, Ural Federal University. “In addition, we can add natural antiviral agents to the films, which will also extend the shelf life of food products. Garlic, turmeric and ginger contain compounds that can prevent the spread of viruses.”
According to the authors, no special equipment is required to produce the film. On an industrial scale, it can be created by food and film manufacturers.
“It can also be made in a polymer plant. The only condition is that it must comply with the standards applicable to food production. And if there is an inexhaustible source of algae nearby – the ocean, it will be quite easy to create such films, ”concludes Grigory Zyryanov.
Sodium alginate is a well-known naturally occurring food grade biopolymer used as a thickener and stabilizer (food additive E401), used as a thickener or stabilizer. Ferulic acid (a derivative of cinnamic acid) has a wide range of pharmacological properties, in particular anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antitoxic, hepato- and cardioprotective, antiviral and antibacterial, which is mainly due to the antioxidant properties of this acid.