Polymers and nanotechnology, the new face of bioactive edible coatings

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N. M. De la Fuente-Salcido1,2, A. M. Alejo-Andrade1,2, K. M. Favela González1,2 and J. E. Marszalek2

1 Graduate Program in Biochemical Engineering.
2 Autonomous University of Coahuila, Faculty of Biological Sciences. Blvd, Torreón-Matamoros, Km. 7.5, 27276 Coahuila, Mexico.

Polymer-based edible coatings were designed to extend the shelf-life of foods by controlling their intrinsic and extrinsic parameters. In addition, a coating reduces microbiological damage that affects the quality, which in turn causes high economic losses during post-harvest storage. Although polymer coatings with natural bioactive agents have confirmed their effectiveness in improving sensory, nutritional and microbiological safety attributes, they need to be improved in their water vapor barrier and mechanical properties. Nanotechnology emerges as a possible alternative and innovative approach to solve these deficiencies in conventional packaging, thus it also is being applied in edible coatings. In this review, different types of innovative edible coatings are described. They include polymers with incorporated bioactive agents, some plasticizers used to obtain particular properties and nanostructure features. In addition, the main nanotechnological approaches to produce nanocoatings and nanocomposites that have better features for the extension of the shelf-life of foods are listed. Finally, the commercial practicality of polymers used in edible coatings and nano-coatings/composites is addressed, emphasizing their application in perishable horticultural products. All this is listed in light of the post-harvest treatment market of fruits and vegetables which would reach a value of 1.17 billion dollars in 2017, and it is to reach 1.67 billion dollars by the year 2022.

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