Here’s a Food Wrapper You Can Eat #FACTS NOV. 20, 2017. Two researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed a film made from a milk protein that can be eaten. Which means that it may not be too long before we have a #wrapper we can eat—one that’s also healthy. Edible plastic exists, but it’s largely made of starch, not protein. “The benefit,” says #PeggyTomasula one of the lead researchers, “is that it can be consumed with the food so it gets rid of one layer of packaging, like with individually-wrapped cheese sticks. It also gives you the opportunity to add vitamins or minerals or ways to block light damage to the food. And, you can add flavors. If you wanted to add a strawberry flavor to something, you can embed that in the film.” The key component in the innovative packaging is casein, a group of milk proteins with high nutritional value. Tomasula has been researching casein since 2000, and actually created a new version of the protein using carbon dioxide. She noticed that it wasn’t very soluble in water, and that made her believe it might be used to make a film coating that could extend the shelf life of dairy foods.
Tomasula kept exploring the potential of this research and when another scientist, Laetitia Bonnaillie, joined the USDA team, Tomasula asked her to see if dry milk could be used to produce the film. That would also allow them to make use of surplus milk powder during times when dairy farms are producing too much milk.
But #foodcompanies might actually prefer a spray version of the product. “That way they could store a mixture of the particular #milk proteins in water, and then make the coatings and spray them on when they’re processing the food,” says #Tomasula
One possibility would be to spray the #protein film on cereal, which generally is coated with #sugar to keep it crunchy. “It could be fat-free—a #healthier way to replace a process that’s now largely done with sugar,” says #Bonnaillie
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