Food films for packaging fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat, and seafood have been developed by an international consortium of scientists from India and Russia. Natural components are used in the videos, and the research team behind them claims that they are safe for consumers' health and the environment. The researchers claim that the films are water-soluble and dissolve by over 90% in 24 hours in a study published in the Journal of Food Engineering.
“We developed three different forms of food films using the well-known naturally occurring seaweed biopolymer sodium alginate,” said Rammohan Aluru, a senior researcher at Ural Federal University's Organic Synthesis laboratory and co-author of the publication.
“Its molecules have the ability to create films. Sodium alginate is a beneficial carbohydrate macromolecule that, when hydrolyzed, has the capability to form films and is abundantly found in cell walls as a combination of different salts. The fact that sodium alginate works as a liquid-gel in an aqueous solution is its biggest advantage.”
The research team claims that crosslinking alginate molecules with the natural antioxidant ferulic acid makes the film not only robust, but also homogeneous, stiff, and extends the life of the items.
“Antioxidant components slow down oxidation processes, so food stays fresh longer,” stated Grigory Zyryanov, professor of Ural Federal University's Department of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.
“We can also enhance the film's natural antiviral agents by including ingredients such as garlic, turmeric, and ginger, which have components that may help inhibit the spread of viruses.”
The authors claim that no special equipment is needed to make the films on a large scale.
“It can also be made at a polymer manufacturing facility. The only stipulation is that it must meet the requirements for food production. “Creating such films will be fairly simple if an infinite source of algae is nearby (i.e. the ocean),” stated Grigory Zyryanov.