Food Scientists Working On Edible Alternative To Plastic Wrap

Image courtesy of DVS

In the future, instead of throwing away plastic packaging and film covering our food, we might just eat it. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working on a few alternatives to plastic wrap, including an edible film that’s also biodegradable.

USDA researchers have been using a milk protein called casein to make a film that’s up to 500 times better than plastic at keeping oxygen away from food — thus, helping prevent spoilage – and can be more effective than other edible packaging materials on the market, especially when it comes to protecting food products that are sensitive to light, Bloomberg reports.

“Everything is in smaller and smaller packaging, which is great for grabbing for lunch, for school, but then it generates so much waste,” said Laetitia Bonnaillie, a USDA researcher who co-led the casein packaging research. “Edible packaging can be great for that.”

Protecting food is just part of the film’s appeal, researchers say, as flavors, vitamins, and other things can be added to the film to make it more nutritious. So for example — instead of ripping open a packet of powdered soup, you just drop the whole thing in the water, resulting in soup plus added protein.

Another application could be to line pizza boxes, cutting down on grease stains.

It’ll be years before USDA researchers can make the film available, unlesss companies pitch in and develop their own applications of the science, but Bonnaillie tells Bloomberg that the product has the potential to be “so much better than plastic” eventually.

Milk, Not Plastic, Will Protect Food in the Future [Bloomberg]

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