Biodegradable, antimicrobial cling wrap packaging in the works

Singapore-based researches are in the process of developing a material comparable to plastic wrap that is biodegradable, anti-bacterial, and free from chemical additives. While they are still in the early stages of development, if everything pans out, this could be a promising development in the world of food packaging.

Due in part to an increasing consumer demand for environmentally-friendly packaging, researchers developed the new material–chitosan–by deriving it from the exoskeletons of shellfish, making it a natural and biodegradable polymer. In addition to its biodegradable benefits, the cling wrap is also non-toxic, and even naturally contains some antimicrobial and antifungal properties.chitosan-gfse-film-data.pngTo enhance the antibacterial properties of chitosan, the film was fortified with Grapefruit Seed Extract (GFSE), a natural antioxidant that “…possesses strong antiseptic, germicidal, antibacterial, fungicidal, and antiviral properties.” The team researched the combined effects by varying the amounts of GFSE present, and early testing found that average shelf life was increased by about two weeks as compared to standard plastic wrap.

If the project continues as the researchers hope, this could improve food safety, and consequently, reduce food waste. According to the World Resources Institute, nearly a quarter of all food calories produced is wasted. That being said, here’s to hoping their research ends with success!

Find out more about their research from their study, ‘Functional chitosan-based grapefruit seed extract composite films for applications in food packaging technology.’

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e-cigarette in use

New Liquid Nicotine Packaging Regulation Enacted in 2016

According to a statement released by The White House on January 28, 2016, President Obama signed into law “the ‘Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015,’ which requires the packaging of liquid nicotine containers to be subject to existing child poisoning prevention packaging standards.” The new bill necessitates that any liquid nicotine sold or imported into The United States adheres to standards and testing procedures determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the CPSC in part sets measures that make it more difficult for children to ingest harmful materials).

liquid nicotine

Liquid nicotine is used in the increasingly popular e-cigarette. Also commonly known as vaporizers, these devices work by heating a mixture of liquid nicotine, flavoring, water, and a liquid base (such as propylene glycol or glycerin). The liquid is heated to its boiling point, after which it becomes a vapor that can be inhaled. 

Packaging standards like this are nothing new–the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (of which the Nicotine Poisoning act is now a part) is responsible for the requirement of child safety features on myriad hazardous products, including prescription drugs and over the counter medication, and chemicals such as turpentine, methanol, or acid. It was only a matter of time before liquid nicotine products became included in this act–in 2015, there were over 1,500 reported exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in children under the age of 6. Liquid nicotine is especially problematic with children, as it can be dangerous through skin contact alone.

International Organization for Standardization logo

Child-resistant packaging standards are tested and determined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)–specifically, child-resistant packaging falls under ISO 8317:2015, which outlines “…performance requirements and test methods for reclosable packages designated as resistant to opening by children.” Testing also covers how accessible the packaging is to able-bodied adults. Liquid nicotine packaging will likely now include a child-resistant cap.

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Better Health and Tea

1427604_56978169Tea is one of my favorite things to drink, and it’s not just because it’s delicious. Research suggests that drinking tea comes with all sorts of benefits; most notably, it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and can even help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, certain types of tea may help to prevent liver disorders and kidney stones, stabilize blood sugar levels, contain antibacterial/antiviral properties, and can help to combat osteoporosis. Can dried leaves really be all that great? What makes tea so good for you?

First, let’s take a look at where tea even comes from. Tea is only technically considered to be tea if it comes from the leaves of the bush Camellia sinensis. Other varieties, like herbal teas, come from things like flowers or peppermint leaves. Varieties of tea derived from the leaves Camellia sinensis are wider than many would probably expect. White tea, pu-reh, yellow—and the big three—oolong, black, and green, all come from the same place. They only differ because of the way they’re processed.

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When processing tea, the final product varies depending upon its oxidation level (fermentation, how much oxygen it is exposed to before it is processed). For example, with green tea, the leaves are steamed and dried immediately after they’re plucked, minimizing/eliminating oxidation. On the other end of the spectrum, black tea is fully oxidized before it is processed. Oolong tea falls somewhere in the middle, with partial oxidation before the steaming/drying phase.

Other than water, hot tea is the most popular beverage in the world. Globally, black tea is the most common, followed by green, and then oolong. The top five tea consumers worldwide include Qatar, UK, Kuwait, Libya, and lastly, Ireland (consuming a whopping 5.97 pounds every year per person).[1]

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The bulk of scientific research done on tea pertains to oolong, black, and green, so we’ll be focusing on those three. Green tea is most commonly associated with good health, but all three of the above types contain lots of antioxidants and vitamins that can help to prevent disease. In fact, according to John Weisburger, Ph.D., (a long time researcher and avid lover of tea), green and black tea can contain approximately 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.[2] While not as widely consumed, other types of tea derived from Camellia sinensis are also rich in antioxidants, as the oxidation process has not been shown to make too large a difference in levels.

Antioxidants are the biggest benefit that tea brings to the table, as they are responsible for seeking out and destroying things that can damage our cells (which can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease and cancer). Heart disease rates in tea drinkers versus non-tea drinkers have been observed to be lower, as well as strokes. Additionally, antioxidants found in tea have been reported to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and can reduce the risk of liver disease.

Main Sources:

  • Tea and health, Siro I. Trevisanato, Ph.D., and Young-In Kim, M.D.
  • A review of latest research finding on the heath promotion properties of tea, Christiane J. Dufresne, Edward R. Farnworth
  • Green tea leads to better health, Australian Nursing Journal
  • Steep yourself in better health, Rachel Meltzer Warren