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film made from milk protein begins to form using a new ARS process. Click
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New Film Created From Milk Is Edible, Water
Resistant By Jim
Core November 10, 2005
Several products commonly found in grocery store dairy aisles could
soon be coated in an edible and water-resistant milk protein, thanks to a new
process developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists that makes possible the
continuous manufacture of casein film.
The process, created at the ARS
Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pa., uses the unique
characteristics of casein, a milk protein that is the chief nutritional
ingredient in cheese. Casein is also used in nonfood products including
adhesives, finishing materials for paper and textiles, and paints.
Casein is first extracted from milk with high-pressure carbon dioxide
(CO2), a method developed by
Tomasula, the research leader at ERRC's
Processing and Products Research Unit. She found that if this casein is
mixed with water and glycerol and left undisturbed to dry, it results in a
water-resistant, flexible, film-like material. ARS holds a patent on the method
The casein films could serve as stand-alone sheets or as thin coatings
that form a barrier to outside substances while protecting a product from
damage or contamination. The edible film locks in moisture, so it can coat
dairy food products, such as cheese, or function as part of a laminate in
packaging for cottage cheese or yogurt. Flavorings, vitamins or minerals could
be added to enhance flavor and nutrition.
Michael Kozempel, a recently retired ERRC chemical engineer, developed
a continuous pilot plant process to produce the film. He found a suitable belt
material and feeding mechanism so that the solution can be uniformly spread and
dried to form a film that is readily removed from the belt. The process can be
modified for other proteins.
ARS has filed a patent application on the continuous production
process Kozempel has developed, and is interested in finding business partners
to move it to market.
about this research in the November 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.