Active packaging technologies are the best preventive measures to reduce food waste. But many of these never reach the common public. The communication director at AIPIA, Andrew Manly, gives his opinions about innovations in this field. And, it is said that there is a global 30% food wastage as it never gets eaten.
Food wastage in several places is due to different reasons. In Europe and North America, food wastage happens in the warehouse and logistics part, at the retailer end. Many active packaging methods are available to limit bacterial growth, delay ripening or take the oxygen out of the pack, and increase the life of proteins and new production. If these solutions have been used in the markets, we are yet to see their influence in daily life.
There is plenty of work involved in the development of active or Flexi packaging to limit the growth of microbial or bacterial growth. The AIPIA newsletter has been published regularly with reports on the various research and development activities at the technical universities that are giving results.
Solutions to control food wastage
Companies are trying to maintain their focus on nanotechnology with the fibers obtained from the durian fruit skins to produce a natural compostable, edible, and biodegradable material. However, they are not used at large by people.
These products are not commercially viable, which can be seen in the results of AIPIA’s involvement with the NanoPack project. This three-year project produced an antimicrobial film from essential oils like oregano and a few halloysite nanotubes. The initial film limited the mold growth in bread within three weeks, increased the sales of fresh cherries by 13%, and expanded the shell life of yellow cheese by more than four days.
Other options for active food packaging
The antimicrobial film requires approval from the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA), and since this process takes a long time, such solutions get lost. Currently, there are few established inhibitors in the market, like silver. Silver nitrate is an antimicrobial agent, but the metal used in food packaging makes it hard to recycle. Thankfully, there’s an alternative – graphene.
Graphene has good antimicrobial properties and can be reused but is expensive, like silver. There are more environment-friendly and less costly options available for active food packaging. They are methods like nitrogen removed from products to keep them clean and usable for a long time. Such methods are being widely used as they are cost-effective.
Customers’ opinions about alternate packaging solutions
Now, the question is – Are the eco-friendly options being used by the food producers in packaging? Consumers do not like any external additions to their food, but with NanoPack, which would save food and protect them from harmful materials, they were okay with it.
Food wastage costs more water, energy, and the fuel used in transport, and producing food packaging to reduce the amount of food is better for the future.