Scientists are developing an edible form of packaging that they hope will preserve food more effectively and more sustainably than plastic film, helping to cut both food and plastic waste.
The packaging film is made of a milk protein called casein, scientists from the USDA said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
The milk-based packaging does not currently have much taste, but flavors could be added to it, as could vitamins, probiotics, and other nutrients to make it nutritious, they said.
The film looks similar to plastic wrapping, but is up to 500 times better at protecting food from oxygen, as well as being biodegradable and sustainable, the researchers said at the meeting in Pennsylvania.
“The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain,” research leader Peggy Tomasula said in a statement on August 21.
Between 30 and 40 percent of food produced around the world is never eaten because it spoils at some time after harvest or during transport, or gets thrown away by shops and consumers.