Edible wrapping project attracts interest

Edible wrapping created from corn and seafood by-products could provide an eco-friendly alternative to plastic in the food and animal feed industries, a group of Otago researchers say.

Food science head of department Prof Indrawati Oey  is leading a team from the food science and pharmacology and toxicology departments from the University of Otago and AgResearch.

They have been working  on creating transparent wrapping made from zein and chitosan — by-products from corn and shellfish. Prof Oey said the project received a grant of $5000 last year to test  the toxicology of the wrapping, making sure it was fit for human and animal consumption. Prof Oey said it could be used for dry human food and animal feed — such as wrapping bales of hay. It could also be used for wrapping meat in supermarkets. 

University of Otago food science PhD student Stephen Giteru  and head of department Prof...
University of Otago food science PhD student Stephen Giteru and head of department Prof Indrawati Oey are working on a project to create edible packaging for food and animal feed. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
"At this stage we are thinking to use this film as primary packaging, which will have direct contact with food, and then you can have a secondary packaging material to wrap packed foods.

"However, it will be up to the businesses how they want to use the film," she said.

The two motivations behind the project were to make "environmentally friendly" products and also to "add value" to by-products from other industries.

Once the toxicology testing was complete, the team would be looking for industry partners interested in the technology, Prof Oey said. 

She said there had already been interest in her project from overseas, and she hoped it would catch on in New Zealand. The project was supported by the Riddet Institute. 

Comments

Better for turtles to eat edible sea-food bags than plastic ones.

 

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