The shelf-life and safety of food products are often adversely affected by microbial spoiling. The packaging provides protection against contamination after the packing process. Packaging materials that contain antimicrobial agents are able to release these substances onto the surface of the packaged product and so provide additional protection against premature spoiling.
These antimicrobial agents are either applied to the packaging material surface or are incorporated into the polymer structure of the packaging material (e.g. silver in polypropylene (PP)). From a consumer standpoint, natural substances are preferred. Such natural substances include plant extracts. There is however a lack of knowledge about their suitability for extrusion processes which subject the substances to high temperatures and shear forces and can lead to their decomposition.
The objective of the ExtruMiBi project is to develop a sustainable antimicrobial packaging material containing plant extracts which can be manufactured using extrusion processes. This requires R&D work to be undertaken on novel combinations of materials. The challenge here is to combine materials such that they are compatible with manufacturing processes. Plant extracts are intrinsically thermally unstable. To ensure that the plant extracts do not lose their antimicrobial functionality during the processing, substances in the plant extracts that are thermally stable will be identified, extracted, and then processed. Additional protection for the active agents will be provided by micro-encapsulation.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV is starting a series of tests on the antimicrobial effect of different substances. The process engineering steps (extrusion and coating) will be undertaken on the institute’s own equipment and will be optimized.
The project will be coordinated by the Industrievereinigung für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Verpackung e.V. (IVLV). Also involved in the project are the Centre de Recherche et de Contrôle agro-alimentaire, emballage, environnement, papetier et textile (CELABOR, Belgium) and the Association West Pomeranian Cluster “Green Chemistry” (GCC, Poland).
The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.