The US Department of Agriculture has developed what is known as “edible” food packaging.
In its appearance, it resembles traditional cellophane, however, such packaging is made from gruel of vegetables and fruits and is a 100% natural product.
To date, samples have already been created by edible packaging from apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables and fruits.
According to Tara McHugh, an employee of the ministry, the new packaging is slightly inferior to the strength of today's plastic, but it will revolutionize the consumer market and allow customers to take sterile foods directly in the store.
To feel sorry or not?
Creative and eco-responsible employees of The Way We See The World design studio came up with an incomparable marmalade drink under the code word Jelloware. Hot or alcoholic drinks spilled on such jelly glasses should be drunk immediately, as they gradually dissolve the walls of the dishes and the taste changes. On the other hand, the result can be an unusual cocktail! Well, and with the third, it is not necessary to pour something into glasses - you can serve ice cream, whipped cream and other desserts in them. Despite the plasticity and softness of the dishes from The Way We See The World, you do not run the risk of melting the cup by pouring hot coffee or tea there - it dissolves only at a temperature of 95 to 100 degrees Celsius, unless someone likes it boiling water.
Edible glasses were originally supposed to be released with three unusual flavors designed to surprise consumers: lemon-basil, mint-ginger and beet-rosemary. However, demand, as you know, creates supply - and today, manufacturers have expanded their taste assortment by adding celery pepper, garlic olives, champagne, strawberries, orange, cherries, grapefruit, raspberries, blueberries and other gourmet delights to the product line. In addition, each taste corresponds to its original design and the color of the dishes.
For skeptics who do not share the enthusiasm for biting dishes, there remains a very eco-friendly solution: just throw it away. Thanks to the main ingredient of “Jelloware” - agar-agar algae, which are part of jelly cups, such an act will not harm the environment, and even vice versa, manufacturers say, “the dishes will serve as a kind of fertilizer that stimulates plant growth, since agar-agar they eat microorganisms with pleasure, without leaving a trace after their meal.
What are the advantages of such a novelty? The whole secret of the beneficial properties of Jelloware lies in the gifts of the ocean. Translated from Malay, “agar-agar” means “algae,” but in modern industry this word refers to a polysaccharide product obtained from extracts of red (Filoflora) and brown algae (Gracilaria, Ceramiu, Gelidium, etc.), which are obtained in White sea and pacific ocean.
Sweet tooth constantly encounters him in his favorite treats: marmalade, jam, marshmallows, confiture, ice cream (by the way, it prevents the formation of ice crystals), chewing sweets, candy, soufflé and much more. However, the good news is that agar-agar does not contain calories per se, plus this substance is not absorbed by the human body, but only stimulates digestion, removing toxins and wastes from the body, normalizing the liver.
But, as they say in the tele-store, - and that's not all! Algae is very rich in iodine, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folates and a whole bunch of irreplaceable trace elements. In addition, nutritionists note that agar-agar is a factor in increasing immunity. Being a prebiotic, agar-agar serves as food for intestinal microflora, which process algae into the B vitamins and amino acids we need.
And one can not fail to note the fact that agar-agar is a vegetable substitute for gelatin, which cannot but please people who are vegetarian and vegan.
With Jelloware you can now easily celebrate any event, gather a fun company and make friends, make an original gift, get a lot of positive emotions and please children - all taking care of preserving the environment.
He drank coffee, ate a cup, licked his lips and went about his business.
For some time now, this can be done by visitors to those Italian restaurants, as well as guests of KFC chain establishments, where coffee is served in delicious coffee cups from Cookie Cup cookies, which were designed by Lri Sazi for Lavazza.
Sugar glaze serves not only to seal the cup, but also slightly sweetens the bitter espresso.
Edible Gingerbread Edible Spoon
Another interesting development is the edible spoon Edible Spoon from the American design studio Triangle Tree. More precisely, this is a gingerbread spoon: corn flour, sugar, eggs, milk, salt and spices - all the main ingredients of this delicious product, are used for its preparation.
With this spoon you can eat both liquid food and thicker. And instead of dessert, you can bite with the spoon itself - for this it is enough to break it along special lines and eat it.
Spoon Edible Spoon can be of three tastes - spicy, sweet and neutral. Like all dishes of this type, it is also easily decomposed by microorganisms, if you are already full.
Bowl of dough
From time immemorial, a bread bowl of soup has pleased us with its wonderful aroma of bread crust soaked in stew or cabbage soup. But the British confectionery company “Butt Foods” started producing bowls of dough soup. The advantage of this dish is that it can be heated in the microwave.
Edible dishes are widespread in many countries: in the Czech Republic you can buy tea sets made of caramel and chocolate, in Germany - dessert plates and glasses made from fruit pastille, potato and corn cups for salads. In Australia, special tea sets are made from dried fruit, and plates for hot dishes are made from rice flour. In France, some restaurants specifically buy huge heads of cheese to turn them into pots and plates, and in one Florentine cafe a chocolate spoon is served for coffee - you can dissolve it in a drink or eat it like that.
In Russia, edible dishes are not so common. Our markets first take a long look at the new products, carefully test them and then carefully enter the assortment, not daring to be the first and eco-progressive.
Edible packaging is already a reality
Every year, about 8 million tons of garbage are in the oceans. According to forecasts, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans and seas than fish. Global manufacturers decided to turn their attention to the manufacture of new packaging that can be consumed with the product, thereby reducing the amount of garbage.
Back in the 12th century, in China, sailors covered the fruits with wax before shipping, for better storage. And in the 16th century, disposable tableware made from rice flour appeared in Japan.
Scientists do not stop research in the field of packaging today, so that in the future they can completely switch to edible packaging.
Germany is actively working on this problem. In the German city of Bremerhaven, packaging was developed from seaweed especially for one of the Nordsee fast food chains. Algae have been used in the food industry for a long time, for example, alginates Na and Caisolated from brown seaweed. Such edible films are transparent and have high strength characteristics, which allows them to be used in the formation of sausages and meat products.
Also in Germany created polymeric substances from various edible materials: starch, gelatin, natural cellulose. These ingredients make dishes for instant soups, desserts or meat dishes. Microwave and eat food directly in the package. By the way, they are absolutely safe and do not harm the human body.
US Department of Agriculture has developed food casein films. Casein is a protein found in milk, and packaging from it is used for cheese and yogurt. Due to the cost of the technology, the production of the experimental film has so far been possible only at a small factory in Texas. American scientists also created a film based on various fruits and vegetableswhich is great for packing meat and fish. The edible shell consists of fruit or vegetable purees with the addition of fatty acids, alcohols, wax, vegetable oil. It not only increases the shelf life, but also allows the consumer to choose its taste.
Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and Embrapa Instrumentation create edible plastic films from fruits and vegetables. For example, you can preheat pizza in the microwave and eat it with a package that consists of tomatoes and when heated it becomes part of the product. Edible plastic is made from dehydrated products mixed with nanomaterial, which has a binding function.
Polysaccharides may also be an alternative to classic packaging. Such films protect the product from weight loss (by reducing the rate of evaporation of moisture) and increase the shelf life of the product, slowing down the processes of oxygen penetration from the outside.
In Spain, a gel was developed for packaging from Aloe vera. This gel can be a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional preservatives that are applied to fruits after harvest. Researchers believe that due to the high content of natural antifungal components and antibiotics, the gel can be used to maintain the quality of meat products.
Edible coatings and films from chitosan - polysaccharide, which is obtained from the shell of crustaceans. Such films are applied to the surface of fruits and vegetables and protect them from bacteria.
In one of the universities of Astrakhan, they invented a package that consists of 90% of the same substances as the product itself, which is wrapped in it. A thickener is used for this. sodium alginate. The new invention resembles packaging parchment. Under the influence of high temperature, the edible film decomposes into harmless components, which makes it absolutely safe.
Researchers from Samara University have proposed a unique edible film in which you can wrap food for astronauts. In the manufacture of unusual packaging, the use of vegetable or fruit puree is assumed.
In Ukraine, a packaging film made from corn starch, which can be eaten with bread or sausage packed in it. Unusual packaging can be used as a broth by dissolving it in boiling water.
Scientists at OJSC Borisov Polymer Packaging Plant Polymiz, in collaboration with BSU, have developed an edible film, which consists of starch and food-based water-based polymers.
It is perfectly absorbed by the body, extends the shelf life of products, and is also suitable for printing with edible ink. Such a film can be used for packaging sweets, spices, honey, sports nutrition, and vitamin supplements.
Researchers continue to actively work on finding alternative packaging options - perhaps very soon the world will abandon traditional packaging materials that have a negative impact on the environment.
Edible package “from Russia with love”
A breakthrough in Russian studies of packaging edibility was made two years ago by Ivan Zakharov, a student at Kazan National Research Technological University. He created an edible film, which also decomposes in water and can be used to produce environmentally friendly bags and any food packaging. Its film decomposes into its components in water at room temperature per day: depending on the formula, the film first turns into a jelly-like substance, then completely disappears, leaving an negligible amount of water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Ivan did not divulge the secret formula, saying only that it was based on starch.
“The new invention on antistatic properties is one of the best,” Zakharov declares. “Nine orders of magnitude lower than polyethylene.” At the same time, the prototype of Zakharov is 30% stronger than polyethylene.
Other useful articles for food industry technologists read in our section For a technologist, articles about ingredients for the food industry are in our section Ingredients.
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Clean where they do not litter, but the packaging. are eating
In one of the laboratories of BSU, the SG correspondent appreciated the taste of a very unusual product
For many years now, there has been talk in the world community about reducing the consumption of plastic packaging. Many suggest replacing it with a paper counterpart. But this step will not fundamentally solve the problem, because in the manufacture of paper nature also suffers serious environmental damage, and the amount of waste itself does not significantly decrease. It seems that Belarusian specialists have found a way out of this situation. At the end of November at the INNSTARTBSU-2019 innovation competition, the head of the laboratory of cellulose solutions and products of their processing at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Problems of the Belarusian State University, Professor Dmitry GRINSHPAN (pictured) and the deputy dean for scientific work of the chemical faculty of the Belarusian State University, Professor Tatyana SAVITSKAYA, presented a joint development - edible packaging based on starch.
The SG correspondent found out from scientists what the peculiarity of their invention is, how it will help the environment and whether it has any negative impact on human health.
AT ALL, the very idea of creating an edible film is not new; it has been produced in China and the USA for several years. However, here are the highlights. If we talk about production in the Celestial Empire, for example, then people have to work under difficult conditions: the air temperature in the shops reaches 50 degrees, and the humidity is 100 percent, otherwise the film will not work. However, only women work there. True, even with all the technologies, Chinese film cannot boast of good quality. In the USA, it is produced much better, but it is made from expensive food polymers, which, of course, significantly increases the cost. As a result, we get either cheap but frankly bad film, or good, but expensive.
Belarusian scientists decided to create an alternative that will not be expensive, like the American one, but many times higher than the Chinese one. Dmitry Grinshpan says that to begin with, a solution was developed on the basis of which a food film is produced:
- It consists of 90 percent starch, which, firstly, is absorbed by our body, like any food, and secondly, it is film-forming, which facilitates production. Other polymers from food raw materials, for example, from algae or cellulose derivatives, which are biodegradable, are also present in the solution. That is, as part of nothing dangerous and harmful to humans. If necessary, we can colorize the film with food coloring or add flavor.Moreover, if you introduce antimicrobial natural substances (turmeric or cloves) into it, it will also have an anticaries effect. And most importantly, it will in no way affect the taste of the main product.
Next, scientists faced another important task - to develop a facility that can turn a solution into a film. The option of purchasing finished equipment in other countries was not even considered - secrets, production technologies are stored like the apple of an eye. So we did everything on our own.
- We took the equipment for the electronic and space industries as a basis, upgraded it and received a prototype of the installation. The scientific experiment was confirmed on the industrial equipment of the polymer packaging factory Polymiz in Borisov, where they received a durable and, most importantly, edible film. If in the laboratory we tried to make it on the installation, into which only 50 milliliters of special solution can be poured, then the enterprise used a reactor with a capacity of up to 50 liters, - Tatyana Savitskaya explains.
WHAT is the film, which turns out to be packaging and a complete food product? Its thickness is from 0.02 to 0.05 mm, its weight is only a few grams, and visually it looks like ordinary cellophane. It serves exclusively as an internal package, while you can pack anything in it: sweets, sugar, seasonings, sports nutrition, honey and even sunflower oil. If it enters the water, the film disappears without a trace. The same thing happens in her mouth. I am convinced of this by my own example. I try a piece of marmalade, packed in cling film. At first it seems that you are chewing something tasteless, but then you feel how it bursts, and the sweetness is in contact with the tongue, while no packaging remains.
- An American astronaut came to us not so long ago, we treated her to honey in a cling film. She was thrilled. She said that for them this is the best invention, since in flights it is impossible to litter. For this reason, they agree to pay any money to minimize the amount of waste. Also, the development may be of interest to the military, which during field exits is important not to leave unnecessary traces, - says Tatyana Alexandrovna.
In general, the development of scientists from BSU is widely used. The edible film solution itself can be used as a marshmallow coating instead of wax and paraffin, which are based on petroleum products. It is easy to replace chocolate icing with a film as a packaging for soufflé - this will not only add an additional shelf life to the product, but also reduce the cost of it. Another purpose is to replace synthetic non-degradable tea bags with soluble in water. There is a development of a film with spices for frying meat. Firstly, it is an environmentally friendly analogue to paper with spices, since the film can withstand heat treatment. Secondly, the dish itself turns out more juicy and piquant, since all the spices and “juices” remain in the meat. Scientists have another interesting idea. Dmitry Davidovich brings up to date:
- As an experiment, we covered a package of butter with starch film and left it in the refrigerator for storage. After 4 months, we opened it, and suddenly it turned out that it not only did not go bad, but, on the contrary, tastes improved. It would seem, due to what? I suggested that butter, like cheese, should ripen. But the problem is that during this time in ordinary packaging it oxidizes and deteriorates. When using a starch film that passes 100 times less oxygen than ordinary, the product is protected. So, from the point of view of storage and improvement of taste, this is a good invention.
In addition, Dmitry Grinshpan and Tatyana Savitskaya were the first in the world to develop edible tartlets for cupcakes and cupcakes instead of paper, based on starch, which also reduces the amount of waste:
- Our invention does not solve global problems, but minimizing the generation of waste from internal packaging will still save the world from hundreds of thousands, or even a million tons of excess waste around the world. Therefore, we must start at least with this.
Despite the fact that the production of food film was launched, it was not possible to make the process continuous, as the enterprise ran out of money. According to the inventors, no one wants to invest heavily in the development yet, since the cost of a food film from starch is 3-5 times higher than packaging made of polyethylene, due to which the price of the product where it is used increases by about 10 percent. Another reason is lower productivity, because starch, unlike polymer, is more difficult to weld, because of this, in fact, the price rises. But Dmitry Grinshpan and Tatyana Savitskaya do not despair and have already developed a film that may be of interest to medicine:
- After operations in the human body, sometimes it is necessary to create a barrier environment that will interfere with the formation of adhesions. However, the barrier film should disappear after 2-3 weeks. So, we came up with a film that has such properties. After the wound heals, it disappears and does not form blood clots. Now we are developing this direction.
Edible Wrapping Paper and Wrappers
Recently, inventors have been experimenting with components, using specially prepared vegetable or fruit and berry purees for the preparation of edible paper, adding flavors and food colors. As a result, edible packaging paper is pink with strawberry flavor, green with broccoli flavor, orange with mango flavor.
The new very quickly becomes a well-forgotten old, as is the case with "nori" - edible paper from red seaweed, discovered by the Japanese in the 9th century, and today used in more than a quarter of Japanese dishes.
Rice paper was invented back in 2003 by the American chemist Tara McHugh for wrapping sandwiches, hamburgers, and rolls so that the eater would not have to spit out pieces of paper packaging adhered to a juicy product. Often, edible paper is made using tapioca, a starch product that is obtained from the roots of cassava, an edible valuable tropical plant. Tara McHugh is sure that her invention is the future, it will help the world get rid of polyethylene, plastic and polypropylene.
The Chinese also keep up with their Asian neighbors and invented edible carrot wrappers for sweets so that kids do not litter on the streets.
So what do all these food packaging innovations and edible “garbage” lead to? How to make edible packaging from edible utensils with protective, marketing, nutritional and environmental functions?
It is over the past ten years that many new “edible” technologies have appeared that are being introduced in packaging. These technologies have a big impact on products and their properties. Once launched, this cycle of innovation can no longer be stopped, and researchers will continue to search and “tasty” experiments to make the packaging industry more innovative, without restrictions for creativity.
Who knows, maybe we are on the verge of a new EdPack industry (Edible packaging - translated from English as “edible packaging”), where the development of raw materials and materials will lead us to a global revolution in the thinking of mankind, preservation of the environment and nature, as well as a total transition to natural “juice” printing inks and food printing equipment?
At first glance, it sounds unrealistic and fantasy? But no! A more detailed analysis revealed that we are not just standing on the threshold of this industry - we are already marking our feet on the new “market”, but, it’s true, so far only in one place, without showing seven-league steps, which, perhaps, are just not yet matured ...
It turns out that:
- Edible photo printing today will not surprise anyone at all! It is not much different from printing an image on a conventional printer, except that it is suitable for use in ink. The Canon Cake food printer has become so affordable that even a novice confectioner can buy it “in one click” for 10,999 rubles! A more advanced model of the Cake 3 food printer is equipped with food ink cartridges, an antibacterial flushing system and a certificate for the food industry. You print and eat without leaving the printer.
- Eco-friendly offset inks based on soybean and linseed oil have been invented for several decades, but are still used by an extremely small number of printing houses. Why? Because you and I have not yet become green-oriented and aimed at the green revolution - but this has not yet become ...
- Food paper is not at all what you thought. This is not paper that can come into contact with food, no, it is paper that can and should be eaten after visual enjoyment of the image. Suppose that wafer or sugar paper sounds ordinary and for our consciousness that is tired of innovation, it can even be perceived as just another banality, which is already quite common in cake making. But shock-transfer paper is already shock and trance at the same time! True, you can’t eat it - it is used only for transferring a full-color image to heated white chocolate. The principle is simple, like the usual "transfer".
- Food ink in the traditional CMYK raster palette for 2999 rubles will deliver a lot of taste pleasures, especially if you pour them into a food printer.
- The functions of printing varnish are performed by a special cold confectionery gel, which is used to give gloss to the confectionery product, as well as to protect ink from “abrasion” and delamination during transportation.
Any flights of fancy are harmed by restrictions and technological "dead ends". In food printing today, the main constraints are the inability to save the product from contamination due to its fragility and hygroscopicity, small print size (maximum A4) and a short shelf life of food masterpieces.
How will edible packaging change the world?
You will be amazed to hear tomorrow at a fast food restaurant an offer to eat a burger with packaging. As the peel of fruits and vegetables is used by nature to protect them and can be easily eaten, the packaging material that protects the product from contamination should be exactly the same. So, you do not think that this is impossible? Believe me, soon this technology will be called obsolete, especially for food packaging. And even if this extraordinary philosophy is only in some countries, in the future, we hope, the whole world will be infected with this idea - read our study on the topic of smart and edible packaging in all its diversity in the next section of this issue.
Edible glasses and spoons, containers for storing food, packaging with the taste of grapes or tomatoes already exist. Such utensils and packaging may well replace plastic harmful to the environment.
Can bottles, plates and containers for food be not only harmless for food storage, but also safe for nature? This is not the first year that many developers have created completely edible utensils.
The creation of edible packaging, including utensils, is not a new idea. But earlier this was nothing more than a fun experiment or an impressive installation that did not pretend to be mass-produced. In recent years, the idea of a safe and, moreover, an edible alternative to plastic has been seen as increasingly promising. The production of such dishes and packaging for food is much more environmentally friendly, since it is made up of organic natural materials, and not plastic. And even if such a package is discarded after eating food, it will not pollute the soil: it will be an excellent food for microorganisms.
WikiCells - Edible Container Packaging
One of the first initiatives for the mass production of edible utensils belongs to Dr. David Edwards of Harvard University. As an edible package, he proposed the creation of WikiCells (Wiklets). WikiCells is a thin membrane made from natural foods that contains liquids, emulsions, foams or solids. In other words, this membrane is biodegradable polymers and food additives.
The edible WikiCells packaging container consists of several layered membranes: the surface (protective) layer is a biodegradable polymer, followed by an edible shell, and inside it is the contents of the package.
WikiCells is suitable for storing both liquid and solid products. To drink or eat the contents, just pierce or remove the membrane. The developers have created several test membranes - for chocolate, juice, soup and wine.
The plans are to create a prototype of an edible bottle and make WikiCells technology more affordable and commercially attractive for restaurants and supermarkets. Edwards also wants to build a machine with which anyone can make WikiCells at home - "with an almost inexhaustible variety of membranes and shapes, with a wide range of foods and drinks."
You can ask the developer about the possibility of acquiring WikiCells.
In addition to WikiCells packaging, there are also disposable edible dishes - Jelloware glasses and an edible spoon Edible Spoon.
Jellyare Vegetable Gelatin Glasses
The creators of Jelloware glasses were creative girls from the New York-based design studio The Way We See the World. To create their new products, they chose a plant-based substitute for gelatin - agar-agar. Agar-agar is obtained from algae, its main component is edible polysaccharides. To diversify the color and taste of disposable cups, it is enough to add dye and flavoring to them.
Unlike ordinary plastic bottles and glasses, glasses from agar-agar do not harm and do not pollute the soil: they quickly decompose and become fertilizer for microorganisms.
If you want yourself such glasses, contact the developers.