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J Food Sci. 2008 Mar;73(2):R30-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00636.x.

Thermoplastic processing of proteins for film formation--a review.

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1
Dept. of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Univ. of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Abstract

Increasing interest in high-quality food products with increased shelf life and reduced environmental impact has encouraged the study and development of edible and/or biodegradable polymer films and coatings. Edible films provide the opportunity to effectively control mass transfer among different components in a food or between the food and its surrounding environment. The diversity of proteins that results from an almost limitless number of side-chain amino-acid sequential arrangements allows for a wide range of interactions and chemical reactions to take place as proteins denature and cross-link during heat processing. Proteins such as wheat gluten, corn zein, soy protein, myofibrillar proteins, and whey proteins have been successfully formed into films using thermoplastic processes such as compression molding and extrusion. Thermoplastic processing can result in a highly efficient manufacturing method with commercial potential for large-scale production of edible films due to the low moisture levels, high temperatures, and short times used. Addition of water, glycerol, sorbitol, sucrose, and other plasticizers allows the proteins to undergo the glass transition and facilitates deformation and processability without thermal degradation. Target film variables, important in predicting biopackage performance under various conditions, include mechanical, thermal, barrier, and microstructural properties. Comparisons of film properties should be made with care since results depend on parameters such as film-forming materials, film formulation, fabrication method, operating conditions, testing equipment, and testing conditions. Film applications include their use as wraps, pouches, bags, casings, and sachets to protect foods, reduce waste, and improve package recyclability.

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