A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad has developed a novel food packaging material that was able to keep tomatoes fresh and without any microbial spoilage for as long as 30 days.
The food packaging material is made of bacterial cellulose impregnated with silver nanoparticles. Bacterial cellulose is highly crystalline, has high porosity and water holding capacity and possesses great mechanical properties.
The antimicrobial activity of bacterial cellulose was first tested on bacteria and fungi isolated from rotten tomatoes and later on mixed culture. Compared with controls, the composite (bacterial cellulose impregnated with silver nanoparticles) showed 99 per cent killing efficiency.
The composite also acts as ethylene blocker thus preventing excess ripening of fruits. It ensures that fruits age slowly.
The research team would also like to extend the same principle to healthcare products. The composite can be used as antimicrobial lining in sanitary napkins, and disposable clothing and covering in hospitals.
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