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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.
"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.