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Scientists Create Edible Films for Food Packaging

Films consist of natural ingredients, are safe, and water soluble

by Ural Federal University
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Rammohan Aluru and Grigoriy Zyryanov are part of a group of scientists who have developed edible food films based on seaweed (stripped off solution of ferulic acid and sodium alginate in a Petri dish).
UrFU / Andrey Fomin

An international group of scientists from India and Russia has created edible food films for packaging fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat, and seafood. Films consist of natural ingredients, they are safe for health and the environment. In addition, films are water-soluble and dissolve by almost 90 percent in 24 hours. A description of the research and results of the related experiments is published in the Journal of Food Engineering.

"We have created three types of food films based on the well-known naturally occurring seaweed biopolymer sodium alginate," said Rammohan Aluru, senior researcher in the organic synthesis laboratory at Ural Federal University and co-author of the paper. "Its molecules have film-forming properties. Sodium alginate is an auspicious carbohydrate macromolecule that has the potential film-forming properties upon hydrolysis and abundantly existed in cell walls as a mixture of various salts. The greatest advantage of sodium alginate is that it performs as [a] liquid-gel in an aqueous medium."

Alginate molecules were cross-linked with a natural antioxidant ferulic acid. It makes the film not only strong, but also homogeneous, more rigid, and prolongs the life of the products.

"Food stays fresh longer due to the antioxidant components that slow down the oxidation processes," said Grigory Zyryanov, a professor in the Department of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry at Ural Federal University. "In addition, we can add natural antiviral agents to the films that will also extend the shelf life of food. Garlic, turmeric, and ginger contain compounds that may prevent the spread of viruses."

According to the authors, no special equipment for the production of the films is required. On an industrial scale, they can be created by food products and film manufacturers.

"It can also be produced at a polymer production plant. The only condition is that it must meet the standards that apply to food production. And if an inexhaustible source of algae—the ocean—is nearby, it will be quite simple to create such films," said Zyryanov.

- This press release was originally published on the Ural Federal University website. It has been edited for style