A team of researchers has developed plant-based bioplastic packaging that is designed to extend the shelf life of foods and notify retailers when food is no longer fit for consumption.
The packaging is derived from biopolymers, which have nanoparticles added. This provides “new and improved” food preservation properties, the researchers said.
“It is designed mainly to protect the contents from their surroundings and thus extend shelf life,” said Åge Larsen, a senior research scientist at Norwegian research institution SINTEF, which led the project.
“We achieve this by means of improved oxygen barriers. Standard plastic packaging allows the entry of air which places restrictions on shelf life,” Larsen added.
As part of the project, the researchers have developed a number of prototypes.
Plastic manufacturer Logoplaste designed a blow-moulded bottle, while Greek firm Argo has developed a pot designed to hold seafood, for example.
Meanwhile, the researchers have also developed sensors that indicate whether the temperature of food is too high or if a product has soured.
One sensor consists of nanocapsules that contain signal substances. If the temperature becomes too high or the pH value anomalous, the capsule shells decompose and release the signal substances, the researchers said.
“The sensors are sensitive to small changes and the packaging will change colour when the substances are released,” said Larsen.
He said manufacturers will be able to use direct-reading instruments to discover when substances have been released.