Grocery store aisles are filled with foods wrapped in plastic packaging. While useful, these thin plastic films create a lot of nonrecyclable waste, and in reality, they are not always the best at preventing spoilage either.
Peggy Tomasula, Laetitia Bonnaillie, and other researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working toward a better option for covering food - an environmentally friendly film made from milk protein casein. Since this wrap is derived from milk, it is biodegradable. It is also up to 500 times better than plastic at keeping oxygen away from food.
Another bonus? It's also edible.
While the barrier itself has no taste, flavors could be added in the future. It is made almost entirely of proteins and could be supplemented with nutritious additives such as vitamins and probiotics, as well.
According to an article in Phys.org, this isn't the first edible packaging to hit the market. Previous versions have been made out of starch, which is more porous and allows oxygen to seep through microholes. Milk-based packaging has smaller pores and can create a tighter boundary that keeps oxygen out, helping preserve food longer.
After years of study, prototypes of the film are currently being created for a small company in Texas. The research team will continue to make improvements to the product and predicts that casein packaging will be on store shelves in three years.
August 29, 2016