Potential of Dairy-Based Package Wraps Outlined
By Rosalie Marion
January 20, 2010
Food-packaging products made from
dairy ingredients could provide a viable alternative to petroleum-based
packaging products, according to a chapter written by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Tomasula for a new book, Dairy-Derived
Ingredients: Food and Nutraceutical Uses.
The book was written by an international team of contributors and published
by London-based Woodhead
Publishing in October 2009. It serves as a guide to new developments for
the dairy and nutraceutical industries, as well as researchers in those fields.
Tomasula works at the ARS
Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pa., where scientists are
developing strong, biodegradable dairy-based films that are better oxygen
barriers than petrochemical-based films. Tomasula leads the centers
Processing and Products Research Unit.
Most food packages are made of multilayer films that are thin, continuous
sheets of synthetic polymers. But consumers and food retailers are concerned
about the waste generated during the manufacture of such packaging. Many, it
seems, are interested in replacing petroleum-based packaging with biobased
Tomasulas chapter in the new book is titled Using Dairy
Ingredients to Produce Edible Films and Biodegradable Packaging
Materials. The chapter focuses on films made from dairy proteins, with an
emphasis on those based on casein and whey, the major proteins found in milk.
It also covers research efforts to improve the proteins' mechanical and barrier
properties so that these natural materials eventually could be used in a
variety of future applications.
As a dairy ingredient, casein shows good adhesion to different substrates.
But while casein is an excellent barrier to oxygen, carbon dioxide, and aromas,
it is a weak barrier to moisture. Because the water-soluble nature of those
proteins poses a challenge, much of the research on edible casein films to date
is directed toward improving their water-vapor-barrier properties.
More information on the book can be found at www.woodheadpublishing.com. ARS
is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.