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(A constituent Institute of MANIPAL UNIVERSITY)


Antimicrobial Food Packaging: De-contaminating food with

revolutionary packaging

A seminar report submitted



For Partial Fulfillment of the requirement for the Award of the Degree of




I have taken efforts in this report as well as the seminar. I would like to thank our
professors Mr. Ramnath Shenoy and Mr. Ramakrishna Nayak, professors in-charge of
Seminar for Department of Printing and Media Engineering. They have encouraged and
helped me to research and work on this topic of Antimicrobial food packaging and
guided me how to do a Seminar presentation.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the individuals who have been
supporting and helping me the entire time for this seminar.

Nishant Shaw

Foods contamination leading to spoilage and growth of pathogenic microorganisms can
happen when exposed to environment during slaughtering, processing, packaging and
shipping. Although traditional food preservation methods such as drying, heating,
freezing, fermentation and salting can extend food shelf-life, it is not consumate
specially to inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms that may endanger
consumers’ health.

Antimicrobial packaging is a form of active packaging. Active packaging describes

mainly food packaging that interacts chemically or biologically with its contents or
head space to extend shelf-life. Research and development of antimicrobial materials
for food applications such as packaging and other food contact surfaces is expected to
grow continuously with the advent/discovery of new polymer materials and
antimicrobials. However, antimicrobial packaging is still an extremely challenging
technology and there are only a few commercialized products found in the market.

This paper focuses on analyzing the antimicrobial agent development for the past
decades till recent technology. This paper will also provide a summary of the wide
variety of recent antimicrobial packaging materials and of related issues such as testing
the effectiveness of antimicrobial packaging, regulatory issues involved and future
research recommendations such as the development of ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’
Sr. No. Title Page No.
Acknowledgement i
Abstract ii
1. Introduction
1.1 Objective
1.2 Principle
1.3 Antimicrobial Packaging
2. Literature Review

3. Methodology
4. Research Findings and Analysis
5. Conclusion
6. Future scope
7. References

It is well known that the primary functions of packaging are to isolate foods from external
environment and protect the foods against deterioration by the actions of microorganisms,
moisture, gases, dusts, odors, etc.
The exposures of food products to these degradation agents tends to reduce the shelf-life
of food products as well as affects consumers’ health when they are contaminated by
micro-organisms resulting in food-borne diseases. Contamination could occur anywhere
when food is being exposed to open environment such as during slaughtering, post
processing, distribution, shipping, and storage or retail display stages. Therefore, a good
packaging should act as a barrier system to reduce passage of surrounding contaminants
into foods. On the other hand, the packaging must be chemically inert, non-toxic,
impermeable to microorganisms and strong enough to withstand possible amount of
mechanical forces during handling, transportation and storage, from easily getting
In addition to these functions of extending shelf-life and maintaining food quality,
packaging is also important for marketing and advertising, standardizing and provides
useful information to consumers while making products more usable and convenient.
Microbial contamination is the main reason for food products getting spoiled. Traditional
methods of preserving foods include fermentation, drying, adding antimicrobial agents
(organic acids, plants, and salts), thermal processing, freezing, refrigeration, modified
atmosphere and irradiation have been employed long times ago. All these methods
possess their own limitation especially when attempting to apply on fresh meats. Varieties
of packaging systems have been developed as alternatives to preserve foods for different
attributes and applications.
The demand for minimally processed, easily prepared and ready-to-eat ‘fresh’ food
products, globalization of food trade, and distribution from centralized processing pose
major challenges for food safety and quality. Recent food-borne microbial outbreaks are
driving a search for innovative ways to inhibit microbial growth in the foods while
maintaining quality, freshness, and safety. One option is to use packaging to provide an
increased margin of safety and quality. The next generation of food packaging may
include materials with antimicrobial properties. These packaging technologies could play
a role in extending shelf-life of foods and reduce the risk from pathogens. Antimicrobial
polymers may find use in other food contact applications as well.
Antimicrobial Packaging is one of applications of active packaging. Active packaging is
one which interacts with the product or the headspace between the package and the food,
to protect the food product. Antimicrobial food packaging is the method or system to
reduce, inhibit or retard the growth of microorganisms that may be present in the packed
food or packaging material itself. It prevents the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms
in food package by introducing antimicrobial agents in the package where the spoilage
mainly occurs.
In addition to the public demand for foods with extended shelf-life, the safety of foods
has become the major consideration. Hence, the current trend of food packaging systems
are concerning about developing more innovative approaches to inhibit the growth
pathogenic microbial activities in foods. Plenty of products such as active packaging and
intelligent packaging have been developed to meet the crucial safety requirements. For
example, antimicrobial packaging which is under the family of active packaging is made
from packaging system containing antimicrobial agents. The usage of antimicrobial
packaging has more advantages compared to direct adding of antimicrobial agents onto
foods because antimicrobial agents added on food surfaces by sprays or drips are not
effective enough to inhibit microorganisms. This is due to rapid diffusion of antimicrobial
agent into foods and denaturization of the active substances by food constituents which
reduce the reactivity of antimicrobial agent. Whereas, antimicrobial packaging offers
slow and continuous migration of antimicrobial agent from packaging material to food
surfaces which enable antimicrobial agents to maintain at high concentration over a long
Basically, the purposes of antimicrobial agents in packaging are to provide safety
assurance, shelf-life extension and quality maintenance on food. Antimicrobial packaging
is able to inhibit the spoilage and suppress food-borne microbial that potentially
contaminates food products.

1.2 Principle
Antimicrobial packaging system is a hurdle to prevent the spoilage of the quality of
packaged food product from micro-organisms. It allows a controlled release of
antimicrobial agents into the food surface during storage and distribution.
To extend food shelf-life, the antimicrobial agents chosen must be able to inhibit the food
native spoilage microorganisms. In the past decades, large numbers of antimicrobial food
packaging products were developed from novel plastic materials and antimicrobial agents.
Most of the products are proven able to control the growth of microbial and prolong food
shelf-life effectively. However, there are only a few commercialized products found in the
market. This may be due to several reasons such as strict safety and hygiene regulations,
limited consumer acceptance on product effectiveness and high cost.
AM packaging are divided into two major groups called biodegradable packaging and non-
biodegradable packaging. Most synthetic polymers are non-biodegradable and being
superior candidates for usage as food packaging material with the advantages of low cost,
low density, inert, excellent barrier properties, good mechanical strength, high
transparency, ability to be heat-sealed and easy to be printed on.
The most widely used plastics in packaging included low density polyethylene (LDPE),
linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE),
polypropylene (PP), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). However, these petrochemical products
possess negative impact to the environment. It causes landfill depletion, environmental
pollution and high energy consumption of manufacturing process. The diffusion of
additives from polymers into food products could also endanger human health. Therefore,
there has been a shift towards increasing usage of biodegradable materials in recent years.
Among the plant extract antimicrobial agents, only wasabi extract antimicrobial products
have been commercialized. The antimicrobial packaging used wasabi extract called
Wasapower is well known developed by Sekisui Plastics Co. in Japan. Wasabi is a
traditional food that often served by Japanese together with sushi. They believe wasabi has
the ability to kill microorganisms on raw meat. Volatile allyl isothiocyanate (AIT) is the
main antimicrobial component in wasabi extract that inhibits bacteria such E. coli and S.
aureus as well as fungi A. niger and Penicillium italicum.
Generally, biodegradable antimicrobial films were produced by natural polymer possesses
inherently antimicrobial reactivity or through addition of antimicrobial agents into natural
polymer. Examples of renewable biopolymers are polysaccharides, proteins, gums, lipids
and their complexes, derived from animal and plant origin. Most of the biodegradable-
based packaging researches are focused on the blending of thermoplastic starches (TPS)
with biodegradable polyesters such as polycaprolactone (PCL), polylactic acid (PLA),
polyhydroxy butyrate-co-hydroxy valerate, polybutylene succinate-adipate, polybutylenes
adipate-co-terephthalate, and poly (hydroxyl ester ether). Among the biodegradable
ingredients, PLA is the most widely used polymer. PLA is a biodegradable and
biocompatible thermoplastic which is produced by fermentation from renewable resources.
It can also be synthesized either by condensation polymerization of lactic acid or by ring
opening polymerization of lactide in the presence of a catalyst.
Besides the biodegradable materials that discussed previously, edible films made from
edible biopolymer (e.g.: proteins, lipids, polysaccharides) and food-grade additives (e.g.:
plasticizers, antimicrobial agents, colorant, flavors, emulsifiers) are also the good
candidates for fabrication of antimicrobial films. By incorporation of antimicrobial agents
and antioxidants into films, food products can be protected from microbial growth,
moisture migration and nutrient oxidation. The application of edible films is mostly on nuts,
candies and fruits. There are plenty of researches on antimicrobial packaging; however up
to date the development is still not effective enough to inhibit the growth of spoilage
microorganisms and extend food shelf-life.
Heat-sensitive antimicrobial agents such as volatile compounds are preferable to be
produced by non-heating methods such as solvent compounding, electrospinning and
surface coating. Among these methods, coating was the most popular approach to apply
antimicrobial agents onto polymer surface due to simplicity of the process. To enhance the
attachment of antimicrobial onto plastic matrix, plastic films usually undergo surface
modification process by corona treatment or UV radiation prior application of antimicrobial
agents. Normally, the whole process was done in room temperature.
Numerous studies found that antimicrobial packaging can effectively inhibit targeted
bacteria when appropriate amount of antimicrobial agents incorporated into polymer film.
The effectiveness of antimicrobial packaging is greater compared to direct addition of
preservative agents into food.
2. Literature Review
2.1 What is Packaging?
Packaging is the technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution,
storage, sale, and use.
 Main Functions of Packaging involves:-
 product containment,
 preservation and quality,
 presentation and convenience,
 protection during distribution, and
 provide ease in use and details related to the product.
2.2 What is Food packaging?
Packaging of the food product, to protect from contamination & damage, besides
maintaining taste & quality during the shelf life of a food product is known as Food
Packaging. The main aim of food packaging is to keep the food in good condition until
it is sold and consumed, and to encourage the customers to buy the product.
2.3 What is Antimicrobial packaging?
Incorporation of certain anti-microbial agents into the food packaging materials to kill
or retard the growth of pathogenic and spoilage micro-organisms. Antimicrobial
Packaging is one of applications of active packaging. It prevents surface growth of
pathogenic microorganisms in food by use of antimicrobial agents where large portion
of spoilage and contamination occurs.

2.4 What is active packaging?

Active packaging refers to the incorporation of certain additives into packaging film or
within packaging containers with the aim of maintaining and extending product shelf
life. Active packaging includes components of packaging systems that are capable of
scavenging oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, moisture, ethylene or flavor taints,
releasing carbon dioxide, ethanol, antioxidants or other preservatives.
Active packaging usually means having active functions beyond the inert passive
containment and protection of the product. Intelligent and smart packaging usually
involve the ability to sense or measure an attribute of the product, the inner atmosphere
of the package, or the shipping environment. This information can be communicated to
users or can trigger active packaging functions: Programmable functions, smart
materials, etc., can be employed in packages.
Packaging may be termed active when it performs some role other than providing an
inert barrier to external conditions. The best-known and most widely used active
packaging technologies for foods today are those engineered to remove oxygen from
the interior of package environment. Oxygen scavengers reduce oxidative effects in the
contained product. Active food packaging technologies in the form of sachets or inserts
capable of scavenging oxygen or absorbing water vapor have been commercially
available for more than two decades.
The goal of active packaging in conjunction with other food processing and packaging,
is to enhance preservation of contained food and beverage products. Active packaging
extends the shelf life of foods, while maintaining their nutritional quality, inhibiting the
growth of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, preventing and/or indicating the
migration of contaminates, and displaying any package leaks presents, thus ensuring
food safety.
2.5 What are the types of Antimicrobial agents?
 Natural antimicrobial agents
 Plant sources-extracts of spices, oils.
 Animal sources- chitosan.
 Microorganism sources- bacteriocins, enzymes.
 Chemical antimicrobial agents
 Benzoic acid
 Sorbic acid.
 Polyolefin.

Animal Source:
Chitosan is a polycationic biopolymer naturally present in the exoskeletons of
crustaceans and arthropods. Partially and fully de-acetylated chitosan derivatives of low
molecular weight are available, with broad antibacterial and antifungal activity.
Chitosan is considered as a safe food additive.
Microorganism Source:
Bacteriocins are synthesized antimicrobial proteins, which may or may not be modified.
They can be classified into: Class I, Class II and Class III.
 LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene
 It has good chemical resistance, but it has a high thermal expansion and tends to fail
under mechanical and thermal stress.
 It is tough, slightly translucent material and is waxy to touch
 Odorless and tasteless
 Easily heat-sealed.
 Application: Food packing, where purity is important, Milk pouches and Frozen
foods at low temperature.
 LLDPE: Linear low density Polyethylene
 Much improved version of LDPE
 Better tensile properties
 Higher elongation
 Improved stiffness
 Excellent puncture resistance
 PET: Polyethylene Terephthalate
 Most expensive
 Good gas and moisture barrier
 Good chemical resistance
 Food contact safety- it’s a food safe material
 Can be recycled more than once.
3. Methodology
Five methods of incorporating antimicrobial agents into films:
a. Addition of sachets – pads
b. Incorporation directly into the polymers
c. Coating or adsorption on polymer surface
d. Immobilization of antimicrobials by covalent linkages
e. Antimicrobial polymers.

 Addition of sachets-pads:
The most successful commercial application of antimicrobial packaging has been
sachets that are enclosed loose or attached to the interior of a package. Three forms
have predominated: oxygen absorbers, moisture absorbers and ethanol vapor
generators. Oxygen and moisture absorbers are used primarily in bakery, pasta, produce
and meat packaging to prevent oxidation and water condensation. Although oxygen
absorbers may not be intended to be antimicrobial, a reduction in oxygen inhibits the
growth of aerobes, particularly molds. Moisture absorbers can reduce aw (water
activity), also indirectly affecting microbial growth.
Ethanol vapor generators consist of ethanol absorbed or encapsulated in carrier
materials and enclosed in polymer packets. The ethanol permeates the selective barrier
and is released into the headspace within the package. Since the amount of ethanol
generated is relatively small and effective only in products with reduced water activity
aw 0.92, applications have been mainly to retard molds in bakery and dried fish

 Incorporating directly into Polymers:

Incorporation of bioactive agents including antimicrobials into polymers has been
commercially applied in drug and pesticide delivery, household goods, textiles, surgical
implants and other biomedical devices.
The number of recently published articles and patents suggest that research on the
incorporation of antimicrobials into packaging for food applications has more than
doubled in the past 5 years. GRAS (generally recognized as safe), non-GRAS and
‘natural’ antimicrobials have been incorporated into paper, thermoplastics and
thermosets, and have been tested against a variety of microorganisms.
Antimicrobials may be incorporated into polymers in the melt or by solvent
compounding. Thermal polymer processing methods such as extrusion and injection
molding may be used with thermally stable antimicrobials. Silver substituted zeolites,
for example, can withstand very high temperatures up to 800 degree C and therefore
have been incorporated as a thin co-extruded layer with other polymers.
For heat-sensitive antimicrobials like enzymes and volatile compounds, solvent
compounding may be a more suitable method for their incorporation into polymers.
Lysozyme for example, has been incorporated into cellulose ester films by solvent
compounding to prevent heat denaturation of the enzyme.

 Coating or Adsorbing Antimicrobials on the polymer surface:

Early developments in antimicrobial packaging incorporated fungicides into waxes to
coat fruits and vegetables and shrink films coated with quaternary ammonium salts to
wrap potatoes. Other early developments included coating wax paper and cellulose
casings with sorbic acid for wrapping sausages and cheeses. Antimicrobials that cannot
tolerate the temperatures used in polymer processing are often coated onto the material
after forming or are added to cast films. Cast edible films, for example, have been used
as carriers for antimicrobials and applied as coatings onto packaging materials andor
foods. Proteins have an increased capacity for adsorption due to their amphiphilic
structure. A study showed that surfaces with low hydrophobicity had more nisin activity
than those with higher hydrophobicity, even if adsorbed mass values were generally the

Manipulating the solvents and/or polymer structures can enhance antimicrobial

adsorption. Poly (ethylene co-methacrylic) acid films treated with sodium hydroxide
and swollen with acetone showed an increased absorption and diffusion of benzoic and
sorbic acids compared to non-treated films. These NaOH treated films also had the
highest inhibitory effect on molds. The explanation is that the higher polarity of NaOH
treated films enhanced the absorption of the antimicrobials. Binders such as polyamide
resins have also been used to increase compatibility between polyolefins surfaces and
bacteriocins. Glucose oxidase has been coated onto moisture proof fabric sheets by
using polyvinyl alcohol, starch and casein as adhesives.

 Immobilization of antimicrobials by ionic or covalent linkages to polymers:

This type of immobilization requires the presence of functional groups on both the
antimicrobial and the polymer. Examples of antimicrobials with functional groups are:
peptides, enzymes, polyamines and organic acids. Examples of polymers used for food
packaging that have functional groups are: Polystyrene, Polyvinyl alcohol, Nylon 6,6
In addition to functional antimicrobials and polymer supports, immobilization may
require the use of ‘spacer’ molecules that link the polymer surface to the bioactive
agent. These spacers allow sufficient freedom of motion so the active portion of the
agent can contact microorganisms on the food surface. Spacers that could potentially
be used for food antimicrobial packaging include dextran, polyethylene glycol PEG
ethylenediamine and polyethyleneimine, due their low toxicity and common use in
foods. The potential reduction in antimicrobial activity due to immobilization must be
considered. For proteins and peptides, changes in conformation and denaturization by
solvents may result in low activity per unit area. Approaches to increasing activity per
unit area include the protection of active sites during film formation and the
incorporation of dendrites to increase the surface area of the supports.

Ionic bonding of antimicrobials onto polymers allows slow release into the food.
However, diffusion to the product is less of a concern when the antimicrobial is
covalently bonded to the polymer unless conditions within the product promote
reactions such as hydrolysis. This may occur for example, during the heating of a high
acid food.

 Antimicrobial Polymers
Some polymers are inherently antimicrobial and have been used in films and coatings.
Cationic polymers such as chitosan and poly-L-lysine promote cell adhesion since
charged amines interact with negative charges on the cell membrane, causing leakage
of intracellular constituents. Chitosan has been used as a coating and appears to protect
fresh vegetables and fruits from fungal degradation. Although the antimicrobial effect
is attributed to antifungal properties of chitosan, it may be that the chitosan acts as a
barrier between the nutrients contained in the produce and microorganisms.
Calcium alginate films reduced the growth of the natural flora and coliform inocula on
beef, possibly due to the presence of calcium chloride. Bactericidal acrylic polymers
made by co-polymerizing acrylic protonated amine co-monomer have been proposed
as packaging materials for Ž. increased fruit and vegetable shelf life. Polymers
containing biguanide substituents also yield antimicrobial activity.

Chitosan Poly-L-Lysine
 Effects of antimicrobial agents on mechanical and barrier properties of the
packaging material:
 The incorporation of Antimicrobial agents into the polymer can adversely affect the
physical properties, mechanical integrity and thermal stability of the packaging
when antimicrobial agents used are not compatible with the polymer.
 Antimicrobial agents that are compatible with the packaging material can saturate
well into spaces between polymer chains, which means that when they are used in
reasonable amount they do not influence the physical properties of the film.
 Therefore, the study of polymer chemistry and structure are important in
determining the influence of antimicrobial agents on the packaging materials.

 Testing the effectiveness of Antimicrobial Packaging:

 There are a variety of official test methods to determine the resistance of plastic
materials to microbial degradation.
 There is, however, no agreement upon standard methods to determine the
effectiveness of antimicrobial polymers.
 To assess if antimicrobial packaging influences microorganisms present in the
foods, agar plate method, minimally inhibitory concentrations (MIC), and dynamic
shake flask tests are used to evaluate Antimicrobials.
 Tests:
1. MIC- Minimally Inhibitory Concentrations:
MIC can indicate the antimicrobial strength of the polymer and allows the comparison
of the polymer’s antimicrobial activity to that of the antimicrobial alone. The method
consists in seeding a series of tubes containing growth medium with the target
microorganism and with polymers containing different concentrations of antimicrobial.
The tubes are incubated for a predetermined period and visually inspected for microbial
growth turbidity. MIC is the lowest concentration of an antimicrobial in a polymer
resulting in the complete inhibition of growth of a test microorganism. Results should
include polymer dimensions, composition and other relevant characteristics that vary
from specimen to specimen.

2. Agar Plate test:

In the agar plate test, antimicrobial film is placed on a solid agar medium containing
the test microorganism. The agar plates are incubated until growth is visible. A clear
zone surrounding the film indicates antimicrobial diffusion from the film and
subsequent growth inhibition. Lack of growth under a film may indicate inhibition, but
appropriate controls must be included this may be due to simple restriction to oxygen.
The agar plate tests method simulates wrapping of foods and may suggest what can
happen when films contact contaminated surfaces and the antimicrobial agent migrates
from the film to the food. The method can be quantitative if the diameter of the clear
zones around the films is measured.

3. Shake Flask Test

Shake flasks tests provide more detailed information on antimicrobial kinetics. Liquid
media buffer, growth media or foods are seeded with the target microorganisms and the
antimicrobial polymer. The flasks are incubated with mild agitation. Samples are taken
over time and enumerated Unlike the MIC test, this method measure reduction in
growth rate even if substantial grow occurs. Tests in buffer provide information on the
microcidal properties of the polymers while tests in broth provide information on
microbial growth kinetics and the antimicrobial mode of action of the polymers. Tests
in buffer may be misleading since cells susceptible in nutrient-poor media may recover
if nutrients are present. When testing antimicrobial films by the shake flask test, the
ratio of film surface area to volume of product or media must be considered.
Regulatory Issues:
 Food packaging is highly regulated around the world including active and antimicrobial
packaging, and development projects must take these regulations into consideration.
 For example, Actipak. a project supported by the European Commission was started
with the aims of initiating amendments to European legislation for food contact
materials in order to establish and implement active and intelligent concepts within the
current relevant regulations for packaged food in Europe.
 Antimicrobials in food packaging that migrate to food are considered food additives
and must meet the food additive standards.
 Several studies have focused on the use of plant extracts and oils as antimicrobial
additives for polymers since these are generally classified as GRAS i.e. generally
recognized as safe. The concentrations that are required for antimicrobial packaging
applications are much higher than the concentrations found in nature, which may raise
regulatory concerns.
 Antimicrobial packages where the antimicrobial does not detach from the surface of the
packaging materials hold long-term promise as a means of inhibiting microorganisms
in foods. Such polymers would maintain their antimicrobial efficacy and the regulatory
hurdle faced by food additives and contact migrants could be minimized.
4. Research Findings and Analysis

 The use of antimicrobials is mainly due to the increasing concerns about food safety
issues and the need for shelf life extendibility of food products. While antimicrobials
are widely used in packaging applications, the use of these in direct food coatings are
still at very early stages.
 The selection of the active antimicrobial agent depends on the food product and
required shelf life. However, there’s a gradual shift towards the preference of natural
antimicrobials when compared to synthetic ones. This is mainly due to the growing
preference toward the use of natural extracts for food processing and preservation.
 While various antimicrobial technologies are being developed, the use of metallic ions
and synthetics is still prominent with the natural ingredients eventually gaining pace.
However, there is a gap between widespread commercial use and research efforts
pertaining to the development of natural extracts as antimicrobials.
 Fresh products such as fruits and vegetables are mainly protected using antimicrobial
coatings as they are highly susceptible to microbial attack followed by meat, seafood,
and poultry products.
5. Conclusion

Nowadays people are getting more cautioned about safety of additives added in food
products. There are many controversies that arise due to the use of synthetic additives
but the development and incorporation of certain natural antimicrobial agents for the
preservation of food products have now been fulfilling the demand of the consumer on
safer food additives.

Even though the development of natural agents is helping, the insufficient knowledge
of natural sources for antimicrobials have made the industry to still go for the synthetic
additives for certain food products.

Concurrently, researchers who are involved in the development of antimicrobial films

are thoroughly working on utilizing the natural compounds like plant extracts as the
alternatives solution for antimicrobial packaging. However, the development and
application of natural antimicrobial active packaging is limited due to some reasons like
insufficient knowledge regarding the efficacy of antimicrobial in polymer films,
economic impact, consumer acceptance and unavailability of specific regulations about
active packaging.

Thus, based on the review above, the ideal antimicrobial polymer films should meet
several important factors, whereby the most important consideration in food industry is
that process of making antimicrobial film should be simple and within the reasonable
cost. Secondly, the film should be chemically stable for long term usage and storage.
Besides, the antimicrobial film shall act as water barrier and would not decompose
easily to maintain the antimicrobial effect throughout packaging period. Importantly,
the antimicrobial packaging films should not be harmful to handle as well as do not
release toxic particles into foods.
6. Future Scope
Antimicrobial packaging is gaining interest from researchers and industry due to its
potential to provide quality and safety benefits. Currently, development is limited due
to availability of antimicrobials and new polymer materials, regulatory concerns, and
appropriate testing methods. With the advent of new materials and more information
this may change.
New coating or binder materials compatible with polymers and antimicrobials,
functionalized surfaces for ionic and covalent links and new printing methods
combined with encapsulation are examples of the technologies that will play a role in
the development of antimicrobial packaging.
Antimicrobials that can be attached or coated to films and rigid containers after
forming to avoid high temperature and other processing issues will allow a wide range
of compounds to be incorporated into polymers.
Future work will focus on the use of biologically active derived antimicrobial
compounds bound to polymers. The need for new antimicrobials with wide spectrum
of activity and low toxicity will increase. It is possible that research and development
of ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’ antimicrobial packages will follow. These will be materials
that sense the presence of microorganism in the food, triggering antimicrobial
mechanisms as a response, in a controlled manner.
Antimicrobial packaging can play an important role in reducing the risk of pathogen
contamination, as well as extending the shelf-life of foods; it should never substitute
for good quality raw materials, properly processed foods and good manufacturing
practices. It should be considered as a hurdle technology that in addition with other
non-thermal processes such as pulsed light, high pressure and irradiation could reduce
the risk of pathogen contamination and extend the shelf-life of perishable food
products. Participation and collaboration of research institutions, industry and
government regulatory agencies will be key on the success of antimicrobial packaging
technologies for food applications.
7. References

1. Suet-Yen Sung, Lee Tin Sin, Tiam-Ting Tee, Soo-Tueen Bee, A.R. Rahmat,
W.A.W.A. Rahman, Ann-Chen Tan and M. Vikhraman, Department of Chemical
Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Science, University Tunku, Lumpur,
2. Paola Appendini, Joseph H. Hotchkiss, Kraft Foods, Technology Center, 801
Waukegane Ave., Glenview, IL 60025, USA b119 Stocking Hall, Cornell
University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
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Techniques, edited by Ahvenainen, R., Cambridge: Woodhead publishing,
pp 50-70.
6. Jin, T. and Zhang, H. (2008), Biodegradable Polylactic Acid Polymer with Nisin
for Use in Antimicrobial Food Packaging. Journal of Food Science, 73.
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of Acetic and Propionic Acids from Chitosan-based Antimicrobial Packaging
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