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The project is set to be completed by August of this year. (Photo: peacabaq/FIS)

Antimicrobial packaging from shellfish waste under development

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Friday, February 25, 2011, 03:40 (GMT + 9)

Researchers at the Gaiker-IK4 Basque technological Center and other research institutes in Mexico and Portugal are working on the development of a food container with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties made from shellfish waste.

Scientists aim for this new packaging - made with elements taken from the exoskeleton of shrimp - to prolong the life of food, preserving their original properties.
Astaxanthin. (Photo: peacabaq)

This international project is led by scientists at the Technological Institute of Sonora, Mexico.

Also involved is the Research Centre for Food and Development and the company Bioderpac, both of which are from Mexico, in addition to the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute, Portugal.

The innovative packaging is a material containing molecules of chitosan and astaxanthin, which have antimicrobial and antioxidant capacity, respectively.

These agents are obtained from the head and the exoskeleton of shrimp, by extraction and purification after lactic fermentation.

Chitosan. (Photo: peacabaq)
Later, these compounds are incorporated into plastic matrices to prepare polyethylene and polyamide active packaging.

Chitosan is derived from chitin, a structural element in the exoskeleton of crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs and lobster, among others.

Meanwhile, astaxanthin is a red pigment naturally present in a variety of living organisms. It is a potent antioxidant with a capacity 500 times greater than that of vitamin E and 10 times greater than vitamin A.

The research project, which began in August 2009 and which will last two years, is funded by the European Union through the Fund for International Cooperation in Science and Technology.

By Analia Murias
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 


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