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BIOPACK
Proactive biobased cheese packaging

Biopack is a new concept in food packaging. In the first instance, this new proactive packaging will be targeted at the problem of considerably improving the quality and safety of cheeses. Biopack will aim to be cost-competitive and a successful concept could help considerably to expand the market for hard and very hard cheeses, especially by providing a new packaging that makes increased exports from Europe possible. This could be of major economic benefit to cheese producers directly and farmers indirectly in many regions of Europe. The Biopack principles will also be exploitable for the packaging of other foods.

Objectives
The objective of Biopack is to develop new types of proactive biobased packaging. This will extend the shelf life of grated, sliced and whole cheeses by incorporating oxygen scavengers and preservatives encapsulated in cyclodextrines (CDs) into a biobased material of polylactides (PLA) and alternatives. This will expand the export volume for these products considerably, in particular to overseas markets. Additionally, the product-life after opening will improve due to the incorporation of active components in the packaging, which will reduce the growth of moulds. The incorporation of preservatives in CDs into a biopackaging material is a completely new concept, and a successful result here will help other biopackaging ideas. Possible bottlenecks and technical barriers to larger scale production will be identified. The packaging will be produced at a price competitive to that of conventionally used materials.

Progress to Date
A 100% biobased material has been produced. If the barrier properties of the PLA based materials are improved then there is the potential for developing packaging for cheeses and other food products.
In addition, CD/preservative complexes have been made with the potential for the controlled release of antimicrobial components from the biobased materials. This will reduce the growth of moulds, which will extend the shelf life of the cheeses.

Results
The most important results obtained are:
PLA was processable using standard processing equipment.
Flexibilised PLA had suitable mechanical properties.
The PLA films had high transparency.
The materials had good sealability and printability.
None of the tested cheese-related moulds or yeasts grew on the biobased packaging materials.
Molecularly encapsulated preservatives were developed for further incorporation into PLA-films. The most promising antimicrobial, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) was encapsulated into CDs. Complexation technology was tailored to volatile and non-volatile preservatives and elaborated on the gram scale. The technology was successfully scaled-up to kg/batch size.
Incorporation of approximately 10% AITC/alpha-CD into PLA was sufficient to prevent mould growth on cheese during prolonged storage.

Classified in FOOD, ANIMALS

Scientist responsible for the project

Mr SØREN HARTZ
Bulowsvej 13
1870 FREDERIKSBERG
Denmark - DK

Phone: +45 35282002
Fax: +45 35282079
E-mail: soh@kvl.dk

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-00799
Organisation Den Kongelige Veterinær- og Landbohøjskole
Area 5.2
Start date 01 August 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 568 311 €
Total EC contribution   1 584 418 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project   http://www.biopack.org

The partners

  • THE ROYAL VETERINARY AND AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY, Denmark - DK
    grb@kvl.dk
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