Agar becomes an ecological alternative to preserve food

Thu, 13/02/2020 - 09:18

Food is, by nature, perishable. Its shelf life, in other words, the time it can remain stored and be kept in optimal nutritional, sensory and safety conditions, conditions its marketing, transport and distribution costs, as well as the amount of products that may go to waste. The durability of an item of food is not only a major economic issue for the industry, it directly affects the competitiveness of the product. Primarily, too short a shelf life has environmental implications such as the energy cost of preservation and the amount of product wasted due to the fact it is not being consumed. 

Today, products used for preservation, such as plastics or preservatives, clash with consumer interest in healthy, quality food. In addition, growing environmental concerns mean that consumers are increasingly interested in waste disposal, reduced thermal treatment and the elimination of artificial preservatives.  

There are more and more open lines of research on the use of edible films based on the use of polysaccharides, proteins, lipids, additives and active compounds that facilitate the preservation of food in an effective, healthy and environmentally friendly way. One of the most interesting options is the use of agar. 

The use of algae extracts as a coating is a very interesting solution, since it is a raw material of natural origin, is biodegradable, abundant, renewable, healthy and nature friendly. 

Some of their main advantages are:  

  • They are healthy and are free of toxins 

  • They function as a selective barrier for the transfer of gases and moisture 

  • They slow down the food decomposition process 

  • They preserve texture, prevent oxidation and loss of compounds 

  • They prevent the growth of bacteria 

  • They only require simple technology for their elaboration. 

  • They protect food from physical, chemical and mechanical action. 

  • They are transparent and undetectable during consumption. 

  • They extend the life of food by controlling the development of microorganisms.