Food wrap from crab shells doubles shelf life
Researchers of the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a food wrap from crustacean shells and grapefruit seed extract that doubles the shelf life of perishable food.
Thian Eng San, an associate NUS professor, and PhD student Tan Yi Min developed the material, according to the World Economic Forum.
Thian said consumers are demanding that packaging materials be formulated from natural, environment-friendly, and biodegradable materials while improving food preservation.
Chitosan—a natural polymer extracted from the exoskeletons of crabs, shrimp, and lobsters—has inherent antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Grapefruit seed extract (GFSE) is an antioxidant and possesses strong antiseptic, germicidal, antibacterial, fungicidal, and antiviral properties.
The research showed that bread wrapped in chitosan with grapefruit seed extract delayed the appearance of fungi to 10 days instead of three.
The wrap also blocks out ultraviolet light, which degrades food due to oxidation and photochemical deterioration reactions.
The wrap is made in less than a day by mixing powdered chitosan and grapefruit seed extract, filtering and syringing a thin layer onto a petri dish. After drying in an oven, the solution turns into a transparent film.
The researchers estimate that production of the new film costs about 30 percent more than the normal food wrap but its green features should make up for the cost.