Edible films with antimicrobials for meat

Improve the quality and safety of packaged meatA group of researchers is working on the development of edible films with antimicrobials for meat, using essential oils of oregano, rosemary and the addition of zinc oxide nanoparticles and silver oxide nanoparticles. This type of packaging would improve the quality and food safety of meat products, but there are still some issues to be resolved.
Research conducted by experts from the Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences concludes that it is beneficial to include antimicrobial in the edible movies that are used to preserve meat products, preserving all the freshness, flavor and aroma, with this it would be possible to improve the microbiological safety of packaged products.
Edible films are made from pullulan (E E1204), a material that is produced from the starch obtained from the fungus. Aureobasidium pullulansIt is generally used by the food industry to make edible films and oral hygiene products. This transparent and flavorless edible polymer would be combined with essential oils obtained from oregano and rosemary, in turn would be combined with nanoparticles that would face the pathogens associated with different types of meat.

A few years ago, a group of researchers from the University of Kentucky (United States) disclosed the possibility of using oregano oil to extend the shelf life of meatThis essential oil has specific properties that can reduce the level of meat degradation, although at that time the experts explained that important questions remained to be solved, since this oil affected the organoleptic qualities of the meat. However, in this new research no reference is made to possible changes in meat flavor.
On benefits of essential oils and its ability to improve food safety we have already talked about on other occasions, an example is the use of essential citrus oils. Research carried out by scientists from the Miguel Hernández University (Alicante) showed that these types of oils are a more natural way to preserve food and are perfectly substitutes for synthetic antimicrobials, such as the sulfa drugs or quinolones that are currently used today.
Returning to the use of edible films with antimicrobials for meat, experts explain that the results show that pathogenic microorganisms are inhibited with this type of packaging, now the next step is to be able to apply it in food and specifically in meat products, two possibilities are considered, applying essential oil before packaging directly on the product, or as part of the packaging process.
The study analyzed the survival of pathogens after a treatment in which edible films made with pullulan were applied with a preparation containing 2% essential oil of oregano, 2% essential oil of rosemary, nanoparticles of zinc oxide or nano silver oxide particles. They analyzed the antimicrobial activity of the preparation against pathogenic microorganisms that were inoculated in the assay in Petri dishes. After completing this first phase of the investigation, we proceeded to work with fresh meat products that contained bacterial pathogens.
These foods were sealed and vacuum-packed with fululane films and the formulation made with essential oils. Bacterial growth was subsequently evaluated for a period not exceeding three weeks in which the food was kept refrigerated. The results obtained show that it is possible to improve the safety of the meat, whether refrigerated, fresh or processed. These films would have a dual mission, protecting food from external factors and eliminating pathogens from the interior, improving food quality and food safety. Experts explain that edible films are effective in administering antimicrobial agents to meat foods, they are kept longer and are capable of eliminating pathogens. The liquid applications that are currently used are effective for food surfaces but as they are not absorbed, they are less effective than fululane film. These films adhere to meat and antimicrobials are incorporated slowly and progressively, eliminating bacteria in a sustained manner and preventing them from proliferating.
Experts acknowledge that the fululan movie It is not as impermeable to oxygen as the plastic containers commonly used to package and preserve meat food, reason why at the moment these films are not in conditions to be able to replace the plastic material. The meat industry prefers to use polyethylene, but researchers want to find a way to carry out a co-extrusion process, that is, simultaneously extrude antimicrobial films and polyethylene, in this way the barrier against oxygen and essential oil film properties.
The next step in research is this, develop active packaging with polyethylene films containing antimicrobial properties. It is a challenge, since at the moment these materials are not compatible, but the researchers consider that it is necessary to find a way to make them compatible because it will be a great step in the conservation and safety of meat food. It seems evident that it will still take us a long time to hear good news about this new packaging. Research conducted by experts from the Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences has been published in the scientific journal Journal of Food Science.
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