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Edible Film Kills Pathogens

ListeriaAn edible film for packaging deli meats can protect people against serious Listeria outbreaks and extend product shelf life while also reducing environmental impact, say Penn State food science researchers.

Pullulan film, produced naturally by the fungal organism Aureobasidium pullulans, is colorless and tasteless. Enhanced with the natural antimicrobial agent sakacin A, it meets growing consumer demands for biodegradable food-packaging materials.

“As soon as the pullulan film contacts a moist surface such as meat, it meshes right into the surface, and as it dissolves, it releases the antimicrobial,” says associate professor Catherine Cutter.

Cutter and fellow researchers John Floros, professor and head of Penn State’s food science department, and Valentina Trinetta, a visiting scholar from the University of Milan in Italy, inoculated turkey breast with Listeria pathogens that present worldwide health concerns. Listeria populations decreased dramatically after three weeks of treatment with pullulan under refrigeration. Cutter says this packaging technology could safely extend the shelf life of ready-to-eat foods.