Create a Promising Withstanding Future of Antimicrobials in Food Packaging Industry
Nowadays, food preservation, quality maintenance, and safety are major growing concerns of the food industry. It is evident that over time consumers' demand for natural and safe food products with stringent regulations to prevent food-borne infectious diseases. Antimicrobial packaging which is thought to be a subset of active packaging and controlled release packaging is one such promising technology which effectively impregnates the antimicrobial into the food packaging film material and subsequently delivers it over the stipulated period of time to kill the pathogenic microorganisms affecting food products thereby increasing the shelf life to severe folds. Food spoilage is the process of contamination of foods leading to loss of color, texture, and their nutritive value and permits growth of pathogenic microbes, which deteriorates the quality of the product and makes it non-edible. Food contamination can occur with its exposure to the environment while slaughtering, food processing, and packaging. Some traditional food preservation techniques like drying, freezing, heating, fermentation, salting can extend the shelf-life of food products, but recontamination may occur that may render the food unpalatable for the consumers. Antimicrobial packaging system is a novel development which incorporates antimicrobial agent into a polymer film to suppress the activities of targeted microorganisms that are contaminating foods. At the 2nd European Packaging Congress we will talk about the latest Packaging Technologies i.e.
- Active Packaging
- Controlled Release Packaging
- Food Packaging Films
Current conventional methods for maintaining food quality over time have not found to satisfy consumers as they demand products extracted from natural sources. Therefore, there is a need in the food industry to explore alternatives to presently used chemicals. Lab Scale Vs Real Life Food Packaging Several natural-substances like antimicrobials, antioxidants, have proven out to be effective in laboratory applications, but their effectiveness in real life applications is still challenged by the specific characteristics of the foods and conditions of application. There is also a requirement for an efficient method for the delivery of antimicrobial substances into food packaging materials. Addition of antimicrobials directly into food; called as formulation, and food wrapping films is regulated by FDA which specifies safety levels of the antimicrobial substances that could be added to food. The addition of antimicrobials instantly in food packaging film formulations often results in instant inhibition of undesired microorganisms. However, the survivor population will continue to grow, as soon as antimicrobials added will get depleted. This is primarily due to complex interactions with the food matrix or by natural degradation with time causing loss of shelf-life. The growing concern with antimicrobial food packaging is the extrapolation of laboratory results into that of the real world. Often, laboratory grade tests are performed with food simulants which are supposed to be far less complex than actual food systems9. In real food system foods have more salt contents, lower water activity, nutrients, and fats or proteins which are found to interact with the antimicrobials. With the evident differences between lab scale and real food packaging applications, a slow sustained delivery of antimicrobials is a very important factor that can mean the difference between life and death. It is crucial to evaluate a microbe for which antimicrobial is to be targeted. When microbes with very short lag periods are a reason of food spoilage selecting a polymer which releases the antimicrobial very slowly over a period of time will not prove out to be effective. Therefore, it is essential to select the right package of the antimicrobial agent and environmental condition for a particular food product. Although it might happen if the antimicrobial is too compatible it may not get released or incompatible that will be released within minutes. Proper care should be taken while selecting and incorporating the antimicrobial into the food packaging film by evaluating all the implications of food safety and harsh reality of microbial resistance. Thus based on the research work carried out by various scientist around the globe it is imperative that we establish the use of a multidisciplinary approach by bringing together experts from all the fields of biotechnology particularly microbiology, food technology, engineering, and material science to create a promising withstanding future of antimicrobials in food packaging industry.