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Sunday, 15 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies, Functional coatings

Film coatings made from whey are more than biodegradable

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Convenience foods are growing in popularity, and the food they contain is usually protected by films based on petrochemicals. Now researchers have not only developed a biomaterial from whey protein, they have also come up with a commercially viable method of producing multifunctional films on an industrial scale.

Films coated with whey protein improve the barrier effect and sustainability of packaging. Source: Fraunhofer IVV

Films coated with whey protein improve the barrier effect and sustainability of packaging. Source: Fraunhofer IVV

From pre-packed Camembert to shrink-wrapped meat loaf – choosing the right packaging is a key issue in the food industry. Companies need to protect food products from oxygen, moisture and chemical and biological contamination while keeping them fresh for as long as possible. Transparent multilayer films, in which each layer offers specific benefits, are frequently used to protect food from contamination. To minimize the amount of oxygen that penetrates the packaging, companies typically use expensive, petrochemical-based polymers such as ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) copolymers as barrier materials. There is a strong impetus to develop a sustainable packaging material which is both economical to produce and environmentally friendly. Researchers working on the EU’s "Wheylayer” project have been using whey protein instead of petrochemicalbased polymers. The natural ingredients in the whey extend the shelf life of food products, and the whey protein layer is biodegradable. The results of the research are promising. "We’ve managed to develop a whey protein formulation that can be used as the raw material for a film barrier layer. And we have also developed an economically viable process which can be used to produce the multifunctional films on an industrial scale,” says Markus Schmid from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising.

But how is it even possible to make a barrier layer from whey? Read it on the homepage of the IVV

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