Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have developed an antimicrobial layer that can be bonded to clear polyethylene plastic films that are often used with vacuum-packaged foods including meat and fish. The research has been published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. The antimicrobial layer is a pullulan-based biopolymer made from starch syrup through fermentation and infused with lauric arginate (CAS 60372-77-2) as the active ingredient. Both substances are noted as already being approved for use in foods. Lauric arginate is described as being a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, and the film slowly releases the compound over time to restrict the growth of harmful bacteria.
In an article published by news provider Food Processing, the authors described that they “modified the formulation of pullulan and changed the hydrophobicity of the plastic. These steps were important because polyethylene repels everything — nothing sticks to it. So, the challenge was, how could we get pullulan to adhere to it.” A 28-day test of the film found that it controlled the growth of Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus in raw beef, chicken, and turkey meats.
Plastics Today (January 24, 2020). “Antimicrobial film created to stop pathogens in packaged meat.”
Chemical Watch (February 4, 2020). “Researchers introduce biocidal food packaging film.”
Hassan, H.A. and Cutter, C. “Development and evaluation of pullulan-based composite antimicrobial films (CAF) incorporated with nisin, thymol and lauric arginate to reduce foodborne pathogens associated with muscle foods.” International Journal of Food Microbiology 320:108519 (Online January 15, 2020).