Fresh Cut Products category refers to fresh vegetables, fruit and market garden products without thermal treatment, prepared, washed and packaged without the incorporation of additives or preservatives and, as an essential requirement, demands the maintenance of the cold chain for its perfect conservation and has a shelf life of approximately 7 days. <P>
PLA4FOOD proposal deals with the development of innovative active and biodegradable packaging for fresh-cut food products based on renewable resources thermoplastic materials (PLA-polylactic acid) functionalised with the synergic addition of additives from natural sources (antioxidants, antibacterial and antifungal) in order to increase the shelf-life of packed products. Different encapsulation routes will be tested to protect active additives from processing conditions and to have controlled migration rates. <P>
Additionally, to minimize PLA current limitations in flexibility, water barrier properties and processability different additives will be studied including bio-based lactic-acid plasticizers, inorganic nano-fillers and organic nucleants. Co-extrusion techniques (blow-film and cast-sheet and thermoforming) will be developed to obtain multilayer structures from different PLA formulations, in order to achieve the best cost/benefit ratio and optimal performance of the active packaging by controlling the thickness and cristallinity of each layer. <P>
As a result of this combination of material advances and processing technology improvements, a high performance active food packaging beyond of current state of- the- art will be obtained. The new active and biodegradable packages from renewable sources will provide minimal processed fresh-cut products adequate protection against environmental agents, will improve product properties (quality, shelf-life, microbiological safety and nutritional values), and moreover, will degrade in composting conditions according to the standard UNE-EN 13432.
Funded under 7th FWP (Seventh Framework Programme)