We posted extensively about the health dangers posed by the plastics used to contain the foods we eat. The stuff ha been linked to everything from cancer obesity to ADHD and and the growth of man boobs.
And now comes word that scientists are developing a replacement, one we can eat.
Much of the plastic packaging we see in the grocery store can be recycled, from egg containers, to milk jugs, to butter tubs. But what about that thin plastic film stretched around wedges of manchego in the cheese bin or the 16-ounce rib-eye in the chiller case?
It turns out that kind of plastic is tougher to recycle and might even be adding harmful chemicals to your food. Oh, and it’s not even good at doing what it’s supposed to do: prevent food spoilage.
Luckily, researchers are investigating alternative forms of food packaging—the kind you can eat.
U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have discovered that a milk protein called casein can be used to develop an edible, biodegradable packaging film. The casein-based film is up to 500 times better than plastic at keeping oxygen away from food because proteins form a tighter network when they polymerize, the researchers found. It’s also more effective than current edible packaging materials made from starch and protects food products that are sensitive to light.
To produce a more practical packaging material, the team added glycerol and citrus pectin to the casein film, which is made by spreading a mixture of water and commercially available casein powder. Glycerol made the protein film softer, and citrus pectin added more structure to the film, allowing it to resist humidity and high temperatures better. Bonnaillie said the additives used by researchers also distinguish their packaging, because pectin is good for us.
Flavorings, vitamins, and other additives can be used to make the packaging, and the food it surrounds, tastier and more nutritious.
Sounds like a good idea.