In a bid to create an alternative to plastic packaging and containers for food, scientists from Rutgers University have developed a plant-based food wrap that can be sprayed on food items.

Using technology called focused rotary jet spinning, the researchers produced polysaccharide/biopolymer-based fibers spun from a heating device. This stringy material can reportedly be shrink-wrapped around an assortment of foods, ranging from avocado to sirloin steak.

According to the Rutgers team, the fiber coating can protect the food from bruising and also contains antimicrobial agents to prevent spoilage and the formation of pathogenic microorganisms including E. coli and listeria.

During testing, the coating reportedly extended the shelf life of avocados by 50%. Additionally, it could be easily rinsed off the food using water and biodegrades in soil in just three days.

In addition to prolonging the shelf life of the fiber encapsulated foods, the coating can reportedly reduce the environmental impact of plastic food packaging while simultaneously protecting human health.

The fiber coating is detailed in the article, High-throughput coating with biodegradable antimicrobial pullulan fibres extends shelf life and reduces weight loss in an avocado model, which appears in the journal Nature Food.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com