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Scientists invent silk-based cling film alternative

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Scientists invent silk-based cling film alternative

May 10
16:18 2016

study_bananasScientists at Tufts University have invented a new silk-based alternative to clingfilm they claim can preserve food without refrigeration for more than a week.

The biomedical engineers say the edible, biodegradable silk solution is so thin it is virtually invisible to the eye. They hope the material will be beneficial to the environment and reduce the amount of food wasted every year around the world.

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations suggest that one third of all food is currently spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. A big part of this is due to premature deterioration of these perishable foods.

According to the researchers, silk’s unique crystalline structure makes it one of nature’s toughest materials. Fibroin, an insoluble protein found in silk, has a remarkable ability to stabilise and protect other materials while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable.

studyIn tests, strawberries were left for seven days at room temperature and became discoloured and soft, but those coated with the silk protein appeared to stay juicy and firm. A similar result was achieved using bananas.

 

“The beta-sheet content of the edible silk fibroin coatings made the strawberries less permeable to carbon dioxide and oxygen. We saw a statistically significant delay in the decay of the fruit,” senior study author Fiorenzo G. Omenetto said.

 

The thin, odorless silk coating did not affect fruit texture, but taste was not studied.

The study is published in full in the journal Scientific Reports.

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