Study Edible Nano-Coating Extends Shelf Life Of Perishable Food

Monday, October 2nd, 2017 | 605 Views

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a nano-coating technique for coating fruit that could prolong its shelf life by several weeks.

The study which was published in Scientific Reports found that the coating of agricultural products in the edible, protective layer of nano-coating also provides additional nutrients when consumed.

Test results found that after 28 days of storing mandarin oranges at 25 deg C, 27 percent of the uncoated fruit were rotten while all of the coated mandarins remained edible. In a test with strawberries, after 58 hours over half of the treated fruit remained in good condition, while only six percent of the untreated strawberries did not turn inedible.

The new nano-coating spraying technique uses plant derived polyphenols, a non-toxic food additive that also has antibacterial properties. The nano-coating process takes five seconds to apply and forms nanometre-thick films.

Polyphenols are metabolites of photosynthesis and possess several hydroxyl groups. They are found in a large number of plants and display excellent antioxidant properties. They have been widely used as a nontoxic food additive and are known to exhibit antibacterial as well as potential anti-carcinogenic capabilities.

“Nano-coating technologies are still in their infancy, but they have untapped potential for exciting applications. As we have shown, nano-coatings can be easily adapted for several different uses, and the creative combination of existing nanomaterials and coating methods can synergise to unlock this potential,” said Professor Choi Insung of the Department of Chemistry at KAIST.

Compared to conventional immersion coating methods, which dip substrates in specialised coating solutions, this spray technique can coat the select areas more quickly. The spray also prevents cross contamination, which is a big concern for immersion methods.

Before this study, there have been practical limitations on the application of preservative sprays. However, this new technique takes only five seconds to apply and the time saved could allow for preserving sprays to be brought into the process of mass-harvesting fruit.

The scientists have patented the product and are in the process of attempting to commercialise it for widespread use.


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