IIT Madras develops antimicrobial wrapping material

Sustainable antibacterial, biodegradable food wrapper

IIT Madras
The antibacterial coated polymer wrapper was tested to wrap paneer, meat, and chicken.

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) announced that its researchers have developed a sustainable antimicrobial wrapping material that can prevent packaged food contamination by bacteria and reduce the plastic waste generated in the environment when disposing of the wrappers. The researchers said that this biodegradable food wrapper has an in-built antibacterial compound and is safe for consumption.

“We have developed a biodegradable wrapping material with in-built antibacterial activity to prevent bacterial growth in stored food,” study author Mukesh Doble from the Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said in a statement. “The antibacterial compound should be safe for consumption as it is approved by the authorities and does not cause any toxicity,” Doble added.

The films developed by the IIT Madras team were made with polymeric blends containing starch, polyvinyl alcohol, cyclic beta glycans (CBG). The composition was optimized to achieve the best film with a smooth texture, flexibility, uniform thickness, and good clarity. The polymers used in the film are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The antibacterial agent selected is also approved by the food authority for consumption and includes eugenol, chlorogenic acid, betanin, curcumin, and gallic acid, among others. “These compounds are used regularly in Indian food and are known to possess antibacterial, antioxidant and many other beneficial bioactivities,” the statement added.

According to the researchers, the wrapping material they have developed also degrades at various environmental conditions, with the rate of degradation varying from 4 to 98% in 21 days. The wrapping material degraded rapidly in moist conditions when compared to dry ones. “Our wrapper is eco-friendly and can play a major role in plastic waste reduction,” Doble explained.

The researcher added that the antibacterial coated polymer wrapper was tested to wrap paneer, meat, and chicken. According to her, the conducted studies resulted in a 99.99% reduction in the bacterial colonies in food samples wrapped with this antibacterial wrap and stored at 30 degrees Celsius for ten days compared with a plain wrapper.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here