American Chemical Society
When you want to preserve leftovers, you probably use plastic wrap or Tupperware. But all of that non-biodegradable plastic can negatively impact the environment, so scientists are working on edible food packaging made from milk protein. That’s right — the same stuff you’ll find in your dairy aisle could one day keep your leftover lasagna fresh.
"The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage,” said research leader Peggy Tomasula. “When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain."
Known as casein-based films, these milk protein “plastics” are about 500 times better at keeping oxygen away from food and can even be sprayed on directly. They are also biodegradable, sustainable, and safe to eat.
Although edible food packaging and utensils have been around some time now, most of these are made from starches, which are more porous and thus less effective than the casein-based packaging. And this new research not just limited to wrapping up leftovers:
"The coatings applications for this product are endless," said Laetitia Bonnaillie, co-leader of the study. "We are currently testing applications such as single-serve, edible food wrappers. For instance, individually wrapped cheese sticks use a large proportion of plastic — we would like to fix that."