The Edible Packaging Discussion

The Lempert Report
November 02, 2016 reports that scientists are now developing an edible packaging film made of milk proteins.

Sure, there have been a lot of press and some examples of edible packaging for decades, but look around the supermarket – how many have you seen? Maybe it’s because the technology isn’t right, or maybe that the shopper just finds the concept under the banner of yech, or maybe because they just didn’t hit on what was truly important. 

There are a lot of reasons to change supermarket packaging: environmental impact, non-recyclability even the possibility of the foods being contaminated with harmful chemicals. reports that might be about to change as scientists are now developing an edible packaging film made of milk proteins. 

USDA Research leader Peggy Tomasula, D.Sc. says "The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain."   

So just maybe the way for edible packaging to finally become pervasive is to talk about waste. 

These milk protein-based films are up to 500 times better than plastics at keeping oxygen away from food and, because they are derived from milk, are biodegradable, sustainable and edible. There already are edible packaging varieties on the market, but made of starch, which is more porous and allows oxygen to seep through and doesn’t protect the product nearly as well. 

According to the report, in addition to being used as plastic pouches and wraps, this coating could be sprayed onto food, such as cereal flakes or bars to replace the sugar coating now used.   

They say that nutritious additives such as vitamins, probiotics and nutraceuticals could be included in the future. But why? Maybe it’ll just be one more great solution that tries to go a bit too far and fails…