Food Packaging Just Got Futuristic
Gone are the days when packaging was used just to contain food until the consumer was ready to put it in his mouth. Today, the world of food packaging has evolved beyond expectation or imagination. With plastic packaging already a health risk, packaging today is being used to do much – like kill germs or be bio-degradable by itself. We tell you, it is a whole new interesting world out there, so read more about it:
No, we are not talking about a brick-and-mortar construction project, nor are we going to describe a plot of a Hollywood action thriller. This kind of packaging is done with “nano-bricks”, which are made of a polymer containing one soil component employed in making bricks. This packaging has air-tight qualities and it is much better than the classic plastic packages because it doesn’t allow oxygen to permeate, thus keeping the food or beverage fresh and good for long.
There is just one thought behind this kind of packaging and that is how to reduce the 250 million tons of municipal waste, 30% of which is made up of food packaging. Frito-Lays launched its Sun Chips in bags that made a loud noise when crumpled but were 100% decomposable. The bags were first marketed along with the chips in 2010 but the company had to pull off the product (the bag, not the chips) from the market shelves because of the unpleasant sound that they made. However, this did not deter the Israeli company, Tipa, from launching another version of the bio-degradable bag to hold substances like jelly and peanut butter. These bags are silent (most important of all) on being crumpled but more than that, they are elastic, are impermeable to oxygen and heat.
This innovative product has come from a team of scientists at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The scientists are in the process of developing a packaging film for meat and seafood products, which would change its color once the product is expired or compromised in any other way. Called the “intelligent plastic,” this film will be wrapped around the products through a ‘modified atmosphere packaging” method, in which all oxygen inside the packaging is replaced with nitrogen or carbon dioxide.
Ethylene is a chemical secreted when produce begins to ripen or rot. Timothy Swager, a professor of chemistry at MIT, has decided to tap this aspect of food spoilage with his system made of doping carbon nano-tubes with copper atoms. Swager is suggesting that the cardboard packages, into which fruits and vegetables are packed for shipping could be installed with this system of nano-tubes, which would sense the ethylene once the produce begins to ripen. He is estimating that the tool would cost the producers just a dollar per package but the supermarkets will be able to cut their losses due to spoiled produce by 3%.
Kill the Germs
Do you want to kill the germs inside the food that you have already purchased? Well, here is help in the form of “killer paper” and “killer film.” Don’t worry, these are not the code words for two assassins, but actual names for packaging products that scientists at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and researchers at Germany’s “Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV” have developed, respectively. The killer paper is a material made with silver nano-particles, which is capable of killing off germs like E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus within three hours. Killer film is also a similar kind of product, which releases sorbic acid to combat the spread of microbes on the product surface. The film is also tested to be effective against E. coli.
Eat those Containers
Well, if opening up a package and taking out the food is too much of a task for you in this busy world, how about some edible containers. Edible packaging is not a thing of future as it is already used in making detergent pods for Tide company. The same technology, based on creating polymer packaging, is being employed to pack oatmeal, which can straightaway be dissolved in water. MonoSol, a New Jersey-based company, also intends to package hot chocolate and coffee in this edible packaging.
With these creative food packaging ideas, the world of food packaging has risen a few notches. With so many environment and health-friendly options in packaging available these days, notwithstanding the loud part of it, there is no reason you should continue to use bad plastic.
Image Courtesy: fastcoexist