A UK research firm are in the early stages of creating an ‘invisible’ film coating for meat to extend shelf life with the aim of eliminating primary packaging.
Pepceuticals edible meat coating will contain antimicrobial peptide properties as part of a European project, targeting an extension in product shelf life and a reduction in oil-based packaging.
The firm told FoodQualityNews.com it is a ‘realistic goal’ to make the coating as they have made ‘good progress in the early stages’ since the 18-month project started in January this year.
The present proposal aims to help the industry by developing an edible coating that will enable a better preservation and quality of meat products and a longer shelf life in the market to improve the integrity of products during distribution and commercialisation.
Only UK member
The only UK partner out of nine members in the EU MEATCOAT project will create a biologically-active film which protects the meat quality and aims to replace plastic vacuum packs.
Pepceuticals was selected from a PERA tender process and will hold the exclusive license to sell the meat-coat product across the UK for five years and a worldwide licence for the antimicrobial peptides.
Pepceuticals managing director, Dr Kamal Badiani, described it as a novel technology to use antimicrobial peptides as a preserving agent as an edible film coating in meat packaging.
“Ideally, we hope to remove all packaging altogether and we hope to have a prototype by 18 months, possibly sooner depending on the research.
“[It is a] transparent film and it looks and feels like meat instead of the traditional wax type secondary packaging, but of course it won’t eliminate packaging completely but it will cut down the amount of plastic used.
“The edible coating will go on the meat and it will be invisible, the customer won’t notice and the taste won’t be affected.
“If we are successful, the next stage would be to market this for the food processing industry.”
Shelf life extension
Dr Badiani wouldn’t reveal the length of shelf life extension the researchers hope to achieve but said: “It is the minimum to compete with the existing shelf life offered by current plastic packaging.”
When asked about research concerns, Badiani added: “It is an age old concern, doubters saying that we should stop research and it will always be there, but if we listened to them there would be no progression and society would never evolve. This is research and our mission is to find out if it is viable, safe and practical, it is our job as researchers to ensure these things.”