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01 Jan 2019 - 29 Feb 2020 Science

SaferFood - Development of innovative solutions for food packaging applications

Nowadays one of the main challenges of the food industry is the development of ecological solutions capable of extending the shelf life of food by preventing microbial growth, and thus improving its quality and safety. In addition to the focus on developing more sustainable alternatives, the increase in shelf life will promote a decrease in food waste, one of the main problems today. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about a third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted annually, which corresponds to 1.3 billion tons of food. It is estimated that this food would be enough to feed two billion people. In addition to all the disadvantages inherent in food waste, it also has a negative impact on the environment due to the unsustainable use of natural resources. In this sense, the reduction of food waste becomes one of the main challenges today, being one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Therefore, improving the efficiency of food packaging becomes essential to prolong the shelf life of food as well as improving safety in its consumption. In addition, and with the growing environmental concern, it is necessary to develop ecological alternatives capable of replacing the non-recyclable plastic found in food packaging.

Taking into account the problems previously described, we intend to develop a solution capable of extending the shelf life of food, ensuring its safety and quality, and in this way, making the consumer feel safe to consume fresh products. In this way, we want to develop an active absorbent membrane, called SaferFood, to be used in meat cuvettes. This membrane, made of natural-based materials, is biodegradable, which allows to overcome the problem of non-recyclable materials used in this type of application. With the growing demand of the market, in addition to the sustainability of the materials used, it is necessary that the absorbent membranes have an active function in order to prolong the shelf life of the food, avoiding the attack of microorganisms responsible for their deterioration. In this sense, additional properties such as antibacterial and antifungal activities are extremely important.

 

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