The packaging industry has been vastly using plastic to wrap eatables for a large time, but now scientists have created packaging foil from milk protein that is degradable and can also be eaten. It could prevent contamination of the environment from extensive use of plastic, and will safely prevent food decay. This casein-based foil created by the US department of Agriculture is less porous which efficiently block oxygen to keep the product air-tight. Moreover, it is a be better alternative to petroleum-based food-packaging solutions.
Peggy Tomasula, the research leader said,
The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain.
The pure casein foil quickly melts when it comes in contact with water, so the researchers added citrus pectin to make it more stable and resistant to heat and humidity. Its water-dissolving properties can’t be denied entirely, so there is always a need of protecting cover to prevent it from damping. It can’t be said that this innovation is going to completely eliminate usage of plastic, but can surely lower plastic usage in some proportion.
It also comes in spray-able version that serves as a barrier between food and its packaging layer, such as in a pizza box. After the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned usage of per-fluorinated grease-proofing agents in packaging food items, the casein-based foil is being represented as their safe substitute.
It is clear that the casein-based foil has many advantages over petroleum-based packaging, but it is not intact from environmental pollution. The researcher group is making further enhancements in the packaging foil to make it more sustainable, and it may reach the market within 3 years.