Biomaterials and Coatings

Recent advances in food chemistry, technology, and biotechnology have introduced new methodologies to keep food safe and flavourful for longer periods of time. Among these, the use of invisible, tasteless and odourless coatings is increasingly attracting the attention of a wide variety of subjects. Coating consists of a thin layer of edible film, applied to the surface of a food product to preserve its freshness. Numerous common hydrocolloid coating materials including different carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, or their composite mixtures have been described in the last twenty years. Many of them are able to modulate water vapour, O2 and CO2 permeability, possess acceptable mechanical properties and further features useful to maintain food flavour, texture and nutritional value and, some of them, provide also effective protection against bacteria. Moreover, edible coatings serve also as possible carriers for a wide range of food additives, including anti-browning agents, colorants, flavours, nutrients, spices that not only extend the shelf-life of the products, but also may improve their safety and acceptability. Finally, another interesting aspect in the edible film utilization is the possibility to recycle industrial carbohydrate and protein by-products, with the concurrent goal to manage lower waste amounts and reduce environmental pollution.

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