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food engineering

Active film

An antimicrobial substance extracted from mustard, along with carbon nanotubes, were the ingredients that food engineer Marali Vilela Dias used to design an active antimicrobial packaging film that can increase the shelf-life of chicken, cheese, meat, and their by-products. Dias, a professor at the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), in Minas Gerais, has developed a plastic film that uses cellulose polymer and layers of allyl isothiocyanate as antimicrobial agents. The nanotubes help reinforce the packaging. “We use isothiocyanate against a variety of microorganisms that are harmful to food,” Dias says. To test the film’s efficacy, Dias inoculated the bacterium Salmonella choleraesuis in cooked, shredded chicken meat. “We had good results with chicken packaged for 40 days.”