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Scientists have created a "smart packaging" that keeps fish, meat and vegetables fresh for longer

Nadiya DanyshchukNews
"Smart packaging" will become an alternative to plastic one

Scientists have developed a new "smart packaging" that keeps fish, meat, and vegetables fresh longer by slowly releasing antimicrobial substances that kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.

This was reported by the Daily Mail. It is noted that a team of scientists from Harvard and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) worked on the creation of "smart" material. The full results of the study were published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (scroll to the bottom of the page to see photos and videos).

The newly developed waterproof bag looks exactly like transparent plastic. However, its advantage is that it is biodegradable.

Scientists have created a ''smart packaging'' that keeps fish, meat and vegetables fresh for longer

The natural food packaging is made using a process called electrospinning, during which charged strands of polymer solution are pulled into fibers.

The main ingredient in the new material is a type of corn protein called zein, a byproduct of ethanol production from corn starch or oil, to which the inventors added plant starch cellulose and acetic acid.

In laboratory tests, scientists have shown that when exposed to high humidity or enzymes from harmful bacteria, the fibers in the packaging release natural antimicrobial compounds that kill dangerous bacteria such as E. coli, listeria, and fungi. Moreover, harmful bacteria are destroyed both on the surface of the film and on the food it contains.

"Smart release of antimicrobials only occurs when bacteria or high humidity are present. The package provides protection only when it is needed, thus minimizing the use of chemicals and preserving the natural composition of the packaged food," said bioengineer Mary Chan-Park from Nanyang Technological University.

Thanks to this property, the new packaging material has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, including ready-to-eat foods, raw meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.

During the experiment, strawberries wrapped in this "smart" bag remained fresh for seven days before mold appeared, while in conventional plastic fruit boxes, it was only four.

"This invention will be the best option for packaging in the food industry. It will serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based polymers used in commercial food packaging, such as plastic, which have a negative impact on the environment," Mary Chan-Park said.

Scientists have created a ''smart packaging'' that keeps fish, meat and vegetables fresh for longer

After completing the initial validation, the team of scientists is now trying to disseminate their technology with the help of an industrial partner. The scientists say they hope to bring a commercial product to market within a few years.

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