SINGAPORE - Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a packaging material that could double the shelf-life of perishable food, such as bread.
The environmentally-friendly material, developed over three years, is made by fortifying chitosan - a biodegradable polymer derived from crustacean shells - and grapefruit seed extract.
Both chitosan and grapefruit seed extract work together to slow down fungal and bacterial growth. The material also blocks ultraviolet light hence slowing down the degradation of food products from oxidation and photochemical deterioration .
Based on laboratory experiments on bread, fungal growth sets in only at 10 days when packaged in the new material. This happens at three days with polyethylene food packaging, which is most commonly used today.
"Extending the shelf-life of food products also means reducing food waste, and as a result, reducing the rate of global food loss, said PhD student Tan Yi Min, 27, who co-led the research.