USDA researchers are developing edible food packaging made from milk proteins.

  • Fomented by dual considerations of food safety and consumer tastes, the food packaging industry is continuously seeking to develop cutting-edge packaging materials designed to capture consumer attention and increase market share.
  • The American Chemical Society reports that U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers are developing edible, biodegradable packaging film derived from a milk protein called casein.  The researchers claim that this casein-based film could be more effective than current edible packaging materials and appears to protect food products that are sensitive to light.  A key potential application of this new film may involve serving as an immediate wrapper for cheese products (which, in turn, would be housed in a larger plastic container).  Science Daily reports that some manufacturers could also consider “spray on” casein-protein coatings to line the interior of pizza and food boxes to keep grease from staining the packaging, or to serve as a lamination step for paper or cardboard food boxes or plastic pouches.
  • Given the early stage of development of this new film technology, it remains to be seen if, and to what extent, casein-based films will show up on a grocery shelf near you, and the potential regulatory issues that might be presented by such films.