PLA combined with pectin equals food bacteria prevention

By Joe Pryweller, Managing Editor, Packaging Strategies

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 fromPackaging Strategiesnewsletter, a sister business ofFlexible Packaging. For more info,

Converter focuses on short runs

A British-Irish company has established a division to convert flexible packaging in fast, short runs for specialty applications.

Foster Packaginghas set up Flexible Express to convert pouches, printed film and bags solely in short quantities. Flexible Express, based in County Louth, Ireland, features no origination costs and no order minimums, making it suitable for small test markets and fast-needed replenishments. It can produce as few as 10 pouches for applications like market prototypes.

Flexible Express is something of a departure for Foster, most of whose business is in high-end gravure-print conversion. The Flexible Express division will produce flexible packaging, as well as labels and shrink sleeves, on a Hewlett-Packard Indigo ws4500 press.

PACKEX Toronto: "Pack to the Future"

PACKEX Toronto, Canada’s premier packaging, converting and logistics show, will connect the biggest names in the C$22 billion industry at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, (about 15 miles west of Toronto) May 5-7. Under the show’s new tagline, “Pack to the Future,” the forum will incorporate a show-first live auction event, where attendees will have a unique opportunity to bid on refurbished equipment, trade-ins and other machinery right on the show floor.

PACKEX Toronto will also host a “Packaging Innovations” showcase of the winners of The Packaging Association of Canada’s (PAC) National Packaging Competition. This biennial competition highlights excellence in the Canadian packaging and design industries and recognizes the skills used in the design, conversion and manufacture of the latest packaging developments. In addition to showcasing these winners at PACKEX Toronto, the PAC sustainable packaging awards will also be on display for the first time in the show’s history.

This year’s venue, expected to attract 500 exhibitors and 8,000 attendees to the 200,000-square-foot exhibition space, emphasizes exhibitor activities and current trends, including sustainability and packaging safety and traceability. PACKEX Toronto’s innovative floor plan, say show organizers, will reflect the segmentation of today’s market and matches exhibitor location with visitor preferences.

News Briefs

Toray Plastics America names new CEO

Richard Schloesser was named chief executive officer of Toray Plastics (America) Inc. effective Jan. 13. Schloesser, the first American to achieve the company’s highest-ranking position, most recently served as the company’s president and chief operating officer and will retain the title of president. Schloesser succeeds Kojiro Maeda, who is returning to Toray Industries in Japan to assume the role of deputy general manager of the Films Div.

Clear Lam opens West Coast facility

Film converter Clear Lam Packaging opened its new West Coast facility in Vernon, Calif., on Dec. 29, 2008. The new 111,000-square-foot plant supports the growth of Clear Lam’s rigid and flexible packaging businesses and includes extrusion and thermoforming capabilities.

Brushed metallized PET film: Thin is in

The Brushfoil division of Interfilm Holdings has introduced its new line of 48 gauge (12 micron) brushed metallized polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films. These new, thinner gauged brushed PET films include a chemically treated print surface excellent for laminating to paper and board. The thinner film will have the same high-quality finish as its 92 gauge (23 micron) product but will improve economies due to yield and will be available in larger rolls which require fewer changeovers.


The article “Could Clemson’s new food packaging lab further the penetration of retort pouches” on p.8 of our January 2009 issue neglected to mention that the lab is a joint collaboration between Clemson University and Sealed Air’s Cryovac Div. (800-391-5645;, with assistance from Surdry-SSA and MOCON.

We apologize for the omission.