A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that polylactic acid (PLA) combined with other anti-microbial agents in food packaging is an effective inhibitor of Listeria and other contaminants.

The study, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, is one of the first showcasing the use of a biopolymer as an effective bacterial inhibitor in commodity film. Scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service combined PLA provided by NatureWorks with nisin and pectin to create the anti-microbial film.

Listeria is an especially challenging bacteria in film, resisting the addition of salt or hot or cold temperatures to spread in food after exposure. Pectin, primarily used as a thickening agent in food, was combined with PLA to produce an effective barrier, the report stated.

The USDA chose the corn-based PLA in an effort to study a resin that could be derived from renewable resources, but stated more studies need to be done on the use of pectin and plastic resin in film use before results can be validated. Still, with PLA material attempting to move beyond commodity uses, the study provides some hope to address growing food safety concerns. n

Reprinted with permission from Packaging Strategiesnewsletter, a sister business ofFlexible Packaging. For more info, visitwww.packstrat.com.