Food in the News: Breakthrough in New Food Packaging Material
To increase awareness of children’s health and wellness topics, Phipps' Let’s Move Pittsburgh program presents Food in the News, a column on local, state and national health policies and nutrition related updates that impact you.
Jeffrey Catchmark, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State University, recently made a breakthrough in creating a new, sustainable food packaging material. The un-named material is made from cellulose pulp (derived from wood or cotton) as well as “chisosan,” which is a product of the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans.
This all-natural, biodegradable product could replace not only plastic coatings and packaging that are used in food packaging, but could also be used in flooring and industrial coatings and adhesives, as well as in construction materials and even cosmetics.
According to Professor Catchmark, "The potential reduction of pollution is immense if these barrier coatings replace millions of tons of petroleum-based plastic associated with food packaging used every year in the United States and much more globally1.”
In addition to plastic’s immense impact on the environment, its use in food packaging has drawn scrutiny in the past, due to the health concerns of ingesting low levels of harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A, used in aluminum cans, and BPA, which can be found in many plastic products readily available to US consumers.
Right now, Professor Catchmark is working to patent the material, which is already being tested by a manufacturing company in Tennessee for use with its packaging. Hopefully we will be seeing more companies incorporating this innovative, eco-friendly material, in the coming years!
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