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Edible Food Packaging

 

 

Food packaging is used worldwide for preserving and protecting food. Without it we would struggle to ship foods long distances and we would be unable to maintain shelf life for as long as we do. Although packaging is a great phenomenon that has enabled us to do more with food produce than ever before, it can be a burden on the planet. 

It is rare to find food that is in loose form and not packaged in one way or another. For example, bananas come in bunches and have a tough outer skin that protects them, yet supermarkets still seem to place them in plastic packaging. Not only is this wasteful but if it isn’t recycled (most of the time it isn’t) the bag will find itself on a landfill or being burned adding to pollution and greenhouse gasses.  It’s a win lose situation with packaging depending on how you choose to use it and dispose of it however a new and inventive idea has come into the lime light that may just be the future of packaging.

Many businesses and packaging companies are already doing their part to help prevent unnecessary waste and materials that can harm the planet. With eco-friendly packaging being made we can rest assured that it is biodegradable and that no trace of it will be left behind. This is great, but what if we could dispose of food packaging another way, say by…eating it? Well guess what? We can. 

The idea behind edible food packaging has been in the back of people’s minds for some time now.  Perhaps urged by the experimental chef Heston Blumenthal who has made a number of edible wrappers to fit around food he has made. It’s all fun and games with Heston but now two US companies are taking it one step further.

The Harvard Whys Institute have experimented with a number of food products and have successfully made membranes for packaging food.  Examples include a tomato membrane that holds gazpacho soup, an orange membrane that contains orange juice that can be drunk trough a straw, a grape membrane that contains wine and a chocolate membrane for holding hot chocolate. Dr Edwards who runs the project thinks it’s possible to create any flavour edible membrane.  The membrane known as WikiCells is constructed from a biodegradable polymer and food particles. It is hoped that in the near future WikiCells will make it into supermarkets

Another American company not far behind is MonoSol based in Indiana. Responsible for making the water soluble cases that surround washing powder, the company have used this concept to produce films that are both tasty and edible.  The films are strong enough to be used as packaging but once they come into contact with water the film dissolves.  So far they have produced films that surround single serving hot chocolate. The whole pod can be placed straight into a cup and the film will dissolve. Others include single serving flavoured porridge pods.  

As well as the above companies Pepceuticals, located in Leicester, England have just bagged themselves a £1.3m European research contract. The company intend to produce an edible coating that can be wrapped around fresh meat potentially increasing shelf life and reducing waste.  Meat is the biggest food seller in the UK yet we manage to waste 570,000 tonnes of it each year. The proposed film is hoped to significantly prevent the spoiling of food so that less meat is thrown out over the course of the year.  

Image source - http://bit.ly/1uCjkkn


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Edible Food Packaging

 

 

Food packaging is used worldwide for preserving and protecting food. Without it we would struggle to ship foods long distances and we would be unable to maintain shelf life for as long as we do. Although packaging is a great phenomenon that has enabled us to do more with food produce than ever before, it can be a burden on the planet. 

It is rare to find food that is in loose form and not packaged in one way or another. For example, bananas come in bunches and have a tough outer skin that protects them, yet supermarkets still seem to place them in plastic packaging. Not only is this wasteful but if it isn’t recycled (most of the time it isn’t) the bag will find itself on a landfill or being burned adding to pollution and greenhouse gasses.  It’s a win lose situation with packaging depending on how you choose to use it and dispose of it however a new and inventive idea has come into the lime light that may just be the future of packaging.

Many businesses and packaging companies are already doing their part to help prevent unnecessary waste and materials that can harm the planet. With eco-friendly packaging being made we can rest assured that it is biodegradable and that no trace of it will be left behind. This is great, but what if we could dispose of food packaging another way, say by…eating it? Well guess what? We can. 

The idea behind edible food packaging has been in the back of people’s minds for some time now.  Perhaps urged by the experimental chef Heston Blumenthal who has made a number of edible wrappers to fit around food he has made. It’s all fun and games with Heston but now two US companies are taking it one step further.

The Harvard Whys Institute have experimented with a number of food products and have successfully made membranes for packaging food.  Examples include a tomato membrane that holds gazpacho soup, an orange membrane that contains orange juice that can be drunk trough a straw, a grape membrane that contains wine and a chocolate membrane for holding hot chocolate. Dr Edwards who runs the project thinks it’s possible to create any flavour edible membrane.  The membrane known as WikiCells is constructed from a biodegradable polymer and food particles. It is hoped that in the near future WikiCells will make it into supermarkets

Another American company not far behind is MonoSol based in Indiana. Responsible for making the water soluble cases that surround washing powder, the company have used this concept to produce films that are both tasty and edible.  The films are strong enough to be used as packaging but once they come into contact with water the film dissolves.  So far they have produced films that surround single serving hot chocolate. The whole pod can be placed straight into a cup and the film will dissolve. Others include single serving flavoured porridge pods.  

As well as the above companies Pepceuticals, located in Leicester, England have just bagged themselves a £1.3m European research contract. The company intend to produce an edible coating that can be wrapped around fresh meat potentially increasing shelf life and reducing waste.  Meat is the biggest food seller in the UK yet we manage to waste 570,000 tonnes of it each year. The proposed film is hoped to significantly prevent the spoiling of food so that less meat is thrown out over the course of the year.  

Image source - http://bit.ly/1uCjkkn


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