Researchers at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) here have developed an edible protein film to replace the unhygienic, eco-unfriendly plastic material used for packing and preserving livestock products. It has a short biodegradable period and can extend the shelf life of such products.
The first-of-its-kind in the country, the wrapping film has been developed from the waste of milk products, fish meat, lemon grass and potatoes. If eaten with the products, it will not harm the consumer's health but would rather supplement the protein content of the food items.
Manish Chatly, head of the livestock products technology department, GADVASU, said, "Generally, livestock products such as milk, meat, fish etc. are packed in plastic material, which undergoes deterioration that affects their nutritive value and leads to production of toxic compounds. This makes the consumer vulnerable to food-borne illness. But in the case of protein wrappers, there is no chance of any harmful chemical effect."
"After removal, this film gets decomposed in two-three days," he added.
In recent years, concerns about environmental pollution caused by plastic have expedited the development of a biodegradable film by incorporating degradable components. The university has developed the film under a special project sanctioned by the union ministry of food processing and industry. The ministry has sanctioned Rs 73 lakh for GADVASU to conduct research in this regard.
"Bioactive in nature, this film has a variety of advantages such as biodegradability, edibility, biocompatibility and aesthetic look. These can also be developed as muscle-specific, product-specific or piece-specific," GADVASU vice-chancellor Dr VK Taneja told HT.
It costs only around 90 paise per square ft to develop this film. "In contrast, normal plastic packing material is very costly," the V-C said.
Dr Taneja said a few major industrial houses had already approached the university regarding the production technique, adding that GADVASU was mulling the commercial use of the film.
* The protein film can help to achieve desired international microbial standards and also tackle safety issues of livestock products
* It can regulate the water vapour transmission rate so as to resolve the problem of weight loss of products during long storage
* It can help to maintain food quality during transportation of livestock products in domestic market
* The development of this bioactive film will provide opportunities for additional revenue generation through introduction of high-value byproducts from milk/meat/fish industry waste.