On January 9, 2015 the global news service EurekAlert! published a news release focusing on a new study investigating the use of chitosan-based coatings to increase shelf-life of fresh vegetables. Food is often covered with thin plastic films to make them last longer and to protect them against the growth of microbes. Due to the environmental impact of conventional plastics, researchers are trying to produce environmentally friendly alternatives. The results of the new study published in the February 2015 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Postharvest Biology and Technology show that chitosan-based coatings delayed microbial spoilage without adversely affecting the quality attributes of baby carrots. Chitosan is made out of waste material, specifically the crustacean shells e.g. shrimp, crab or krill shells, it is biodegradable and has antimicrobial properties, as stressed by study author Itsaso Leceta of the University of the Basque Country, Spain. The coatings can be applied through the use of spraying and dipping techniques onto the vegetables. Despite promising laboratory results, industrial use of chitosan is still a distant goal. Chitosan films are environmentally more friendly than conventional plastic films, but still have environmental impacts and their production is yet to be optimized, Leceta said.

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EurekAlert! (January 9, 2015). “Chitosan, a sustainable alternative for food packaging.


Leceta, I. et al. (2015). “Quality attributes of map packaged ready-to-eat baby carrots by using chitosan-based coatings.Postharvest Biology and Technology 100, 142–150.