The days when we will eat packaging may be very close. The packaging obtained from natural products such as corn, tea and eggs will protect both the environment and human health. Although the idea of eating the cheese bought from the market without removing its packaging does not seem very preferable, this is now possible with innovative packaging made from natural materials.
Turkey also plays an ambitious role in the ongoing scientific research to ensure that edible packaging, which can be applied in warehouses in the USA and Japan, reaches the end consumer. İzmir Institute of Technology, which has attracted the attention of the world by developing packaging that is 500 times more flexible than existing edible packaging, is waiting for the attention of Turkish packaging companies in order to develop domestic technology.
İzmir High Technology University (İYTE) Food Engineering Department Head Prof. Dr. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ahmet Yemenicioğlu stated that plastic packaging causes great environmental damage in the world, and since this situation is unsustainable, many research groups, especially the USA, Japan and European countries, are working on innovative packaging.
Stating that natural materials that are not harmful to human health come to the fore in this regard, and that the zein protein obtained from corn, whose production is increasing rapidly due to bioethanol production, is remarkable, Yemenicioğlu noted that many research groups in the world are carrying out projects on zein obtained from the wastes produced after ethanol production.
Pointing out that although zein is the most suitable material in the researches, not being flexible enough poses a problem, Yemenicioğlu explained that they carried out a TÜBİTAK-supported study with the participation of scientists from different disciplines in the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Laboratory of IZTECH.
Saying that as a result of the study, they increased the flexibility of edible packaging by 500 times by using enzymes obtained from natural products, which is a first in the world, Yemenicioğlu said, “The ultimate goal of all scientists is to produce edible packaging similar to the stretch films we use in kitchens. We have come a long way in providing this flexibility. We have achieved a plastic-like flexibility. Efforts are continuing to reduce the costs of this product and to increase its flexibility even more.
Explaining that they give an antimicrobial effect by using the lysozyme enzyme found in egg white in the packaging they have developed, Yemenicioğlu stated that they show a protective feature against microbes with the packaging without the need to add artificial preservatives to the foods. Explaining that these features can be improved and packaging can be made beneficial for human health by adding antioxidant properties, Yemenicioğlu continued his words as follows:
“While plastic packaging gives a carcinogenic effect to the food it is wrapped in, edible packaging can be protective against cancer with its antioxidant function. The fact that the name of the package is edible does not mean that it should be eaten. This packaging is consumed by separating from the product as in the classical packaging. But there is no harm in eating it if desired.
We are scientifically assertive in edible packaging, but there is not enough industrial infrastructure to support us. The biggest advantage of the studies carried out in Europe and America is that it finds an easier application area in the industry. Because there are industrial companies out there waiting for the results to come out of the lab. In Turkey, on the other hand, industrialists are not so conscious, they are more focused on plastic.
Some European groups applied to get the technology we developed, but Turkish companies are not aware of this technology yet. We observe that new investments are also made on plastics in Turkey. Under the current conditions, it seems that it will take a little longer for our country to switch from plastic to different materials. Currently, it is not possible to compete in terms of cost compared to normal packaging. Legal support is also needed in this regard. The use of plastic must be legally limited so that manufacturers can show interest in such packaging.”
Noting that edible packaging has started to be used by spraying on meat and cheese blocks in warehouses in the USA and Japan, and that the end consumer will be able to reach these packages in the near future with the decrease in costs, Yemenicioğlu added that Turkey can be one of the leading countries of the future with the attack it will make in this period.
Source : women.milliyet