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Chitosan: Sustainable alternative for food packaging

January 12, 2015

Chitosan: Sustainable alternative for food packaging

A research group of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has used a material known as chitosan, made from crustacean shells, to substitute petroleum by-products.

Riverbanks and oceans are full of plastic; there are bits of this material in the organism of a large number of fish, etc. Packaging and wrappers made from petroleum by-products are seriously damaging the environment. The search for less harmful materials has driven many pieces of research; among them that of Itsaso Leceta.

This researcher has shown in her work entitled “Quality attributes of map packaged ready-to-eat baby carrots by using chitosan-based coatings,” that chitosan films are effective in preserving some of the properties of carrots as well as in preserving them longer. What is more, chitosan films are less harmful for the environment than those made of plastic in various impact categories.

Food items are covered with plastic films to make them last longer and protect them from microbes. The environment, however, is seriously affected by the use of this material. The plastic bottles and films present everywhere in our civilization take between 100 and 400 years to degrade. So the quest for alternative materials to plastics produced from petroleum is an environmental priority.

Various products and substances are used to manufacture these materials: cellulose, potatoes, etc.; and in this case, chitosan.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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