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Mendel University Scientists Develop Edible Food Packaging To Reduce Waste

Scientists from the Faculty of Agronomy at Mendel University in Brno have been researching the development of packaging that can be eaten along with food.

They are currently developing edible protein-based packaging that has the character of a flexible kitchen foil, but there are several variants. The packaging can also be spray or liquid, into which the food is dipped. The main advantage of edible packaging is not only that it is easy to produce, but also that it can reduce the amount of waste produced.

“Edible packaging is one way to reduce the large amount of synthetic plastic packaging, which can take decades to decompose in nature,” said researcher Soňa Hermanová from the Institute of Food Technology at Mendel University. “But they can also help reduce the overall waste produced. We can also use waste materials from other technologies to produce edible packaging.” Furthermore, packaging materials based on purely natural materials do not contribute to the formation of microplastics, which as foreign particles are a great unknown for all organisms in the future.

Currently, student Barbora Smetanová is working in the laboratory on the development of edible protein-based packaging, which has the character of a flexible kitchen foil. “The production of the mixture is simple and low on raw materials,” explained Smetanová. “Although the films produced are not completely colourless and clear, they are transparent enough to allow a thorough examination of the food. In addition, the packaging is odourless, so it does not affect the aroma of the food itself.” To prepare the packaging, Smetanová uses milk protein, which she evaluates using tandem UV-vis and infrared spectroscopy and a special biological microscope.

In the next step, the scientists plan to incorporate active ingredients into the edible films to improve the nutritional value and functionality of the packaging itself. “Of course, it is necessary to achieve acceptable mechanical properties, which are a prerequisite for industrial machine packaging of food in film,” they added.