Next-Gen Food Preservation Solutions in Super Fruits and Foods
The average American household throws out nearly 32% of the food it buys , with a total of $240 billion lost to food waste every year. Fresh produce and other whole foods have a very short shelf-life and typically require extensive preservation to keep them fresh throughout their journey from farms to supermarkets. Chemical preservatives, processing, and protective packaging often pose health and environmental risks – pushing the food industry to develop smarter, safer preservation technologies.
The Problem With Chemical Preservatives
Food preservatives combat spoilage caused by bacteria and fungi, keeping food fresher for longer and safe to eat. While some natural substances help preserve food, such as salt and vinegar, chemical preservatives are favored for modern processed foods. The most common chemical preservatives are nitrates, sulfites, and sorbates. Many of these compounds have known carcinogenic effects, which can cause various cancers, especially of the gut, over time.
Chemical preservatives are not the only concern in the food preservation industry. Fruits and vegetables are vulnerable to damage, and most retailers use single-use plastic packaging to protect them during shipping and display. These plastic products often end up in landfills along with wasted food, leaching petrochemicals into the soil, which may eventually pollute the groundwater.
4 Next-Gen Food Preservation Technologies To Watch
- Bioactive peptides
Bioactive peptides are naturally-occurring protein fragments we can extract from plant and animal sources. These molecules are proven to inhibit bacteria and fungi growth and can prevent fats from oxidizing – the process that causes rancidity in oil. While bioactive peptides can be difficult to extract and capture, promising research suggests they may soon be viable natural alternatives to chemical preservatives for food.
- Edible food coatings
Many food technology companies are developing bio-based edible coatings for fruits and vegetables to protect them from damage and prevent spoilage. The coating layer is invisible and undetectable by taste or smell, preserving the food’s flavor and texture. They can help prevent anaerobic fermentation, stop bruised fruit from going bad during transit, and help reduce food waste.
- Active packaging
Food scientists are finding new ways of keeping packaged foods, such as sauces and dressings, fresh in the fridge without adding chemical ingredients to the label. Active packaging uses biologically-derived, biodegradable polymers and antioxidants to form an anti-microbial film inside bottles and cartons. This technology could reduce our consumption of artificial preservatives while extending foods’ shelf-life.
- Mushroom-based preservatives
Many natural preservatives, such as rosemary and grapefruit seed, are less effective at reducing microbial growth than chemical alternatives. A Canadian company, Chinova Bioworks, is developing a novel compound called Chiber from mushroom extracts that act as a natural, clean-label preservative for plant-based foods. Chiber is vegan, allergen-free, and GMO-free and does not change the taste or texture of food.
Effective food preservation is crucial to reducing food waste and single-use plastic in landfills. While humans have used various processes and additives to extend shelf-life for centuries, new technology could help us keep food fresh without adverse health effects. Nanotechnology that isolates valuable extracts, antioxidants, and proteins from nature could lead to safe, biodegradable, and healthy natural preservatives for the future.
Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of extracts, isolates, distillates, flavorings, and fragrances for the food and beverage industry. Please contact us for more information.