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J Food Prot. 2004 Apr;67(4):833-48.

Antimicrobial edible films and coatings.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 2108 South Anthony Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1225, USA.


Increasing consumer demand for microbiologically safer foods, greater convenience, smaller packages, and longer product shelf life is forcing the industry to develop new food-processing, cooking, handling, and packaging strategies. Nonfluid ready-to-eat foods are frequently exposed to postprocess surface contamination, leading to a reduction in shelf life. The food industry has at its disposal a wide range of nonedible polypropylene- and polyethylene-based packaging materials and various biodegradable protein- and polysaccharide-based edible films that can potentially serve as packaging materials. Research on the use of edible films as packaging materials continues because of the potential for these films to enhance food quality, food safety, and product shelf life. Besides acting as a barrier against mass diffusion (moisture, gases, and volatiles), edible films can serve as carriers for a wide range of food additives, including flavoring agents, antioxidants, vitamins, and colorants. When antimicrobial agents such as benzoic acid, sorbic acid, propionic acid, lactic acid, nisin, and lysozyme have been incorporated into edible films, such films retarded surface growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds on a wide range of products, including meats and cheeses. Various antimicrobial edible films have been developed to minimize growth of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms, including Listeria monocytogenes, which may contaminate the surface of cooked ready-to-eat foods after processing. Here, we review the various types of protein-based (wheat gluten, collagen, corn zein, soy, casein, and whey protein), polysaccharide-based (cellulose, chitosan, alginate, starch, pectin, and dextrin), and lipid-based (waxes, acylglycerols, and fatty acids) edible films and a wide range of antimicrobial agents that have been or could potentially be incorporated into such films during manufacture to enhance the safety and shelf life of ready-to-eat foods.

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