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Researchers in Singapore have developed a type of packaging that keeps food fresh longer and kills harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, and listeria.
The waterproof packaging is made of corn protein mixed with antimicrobial substances found naturally in, among other things, thyme and citrus fruits. As it is entirely biodegradable, it does not contribute to antibiotic resistance.
When the researchers tested the packaging on strawberries, the result was that all bacteria were destroyed. The strawberries in the package were also edible for a longer period of time, almost twice as long as strawberries in regular containers.
"The packaging can be used with various foods such as fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit. It only releases antimicrobial substances when the humidity in the package is high or when bacteria react with the package. In this way, we can minimize the use of chemicals and preserve the food's natural composition", says Mary Chan, professor at Nanyang Technological University and one of the researchers behind the packaging, in a press release.
The researchers will now progress and find companies that can develop the packaging into a commercial product. The hope is that there will be a finished product within a few years.
"The packaging can function as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based polymers such as plastics which are used in today's packaging and which have a major negative environmental impact," says Mary Chan.