A research study suggests that use of pea starch in production of edible packaging and bio-packaging could allow food processors not only to further cut down on waste generated by their products, but also protect against bacteria. Researchers at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, conducted studies using pea starch, which was chosen due to its inherent gel strength, and tested as a key component in biodegradable packaging. Tests were conducted on packaging composed of 99% pea starch and 1% lysozyme under a number of production conditions to determine its suitability to store products.
The conditions included using varying levels of moisture content between 30% and 40%, and different temperatures ranged between 70°C to 150°C during extrusion of the starch. The testing found that density in the extruded pea starch declined as temperatures were increased, while conversely lower moisture levels in the formula also resulted in declining product mass. The strength of the packaging was found to be related to higher density in the packaging, the researchers said.
While increased temperatures were also found to reduce the effectiveness of lysozyme, the researchers added that the packaging still displayed sufficient anti microbial activity to protect against the tested Brochotrix thermosphacta B2 microorganism. A combination of extruded pea starch containing lysozyme could potentially be used as a biodebradable material for packaging with antimicrobial activity.
Despite these reported benefits, further testing on pea starch film to ascertain its moisture and gas barrier properties while using a plasticizer, was recommended by researchers before commercial manufacturing can begin.