Preserving bread longer:
A new edible film made
with essential oil
Essential oils have boomed in popularity as more
people seek out alternatives to replace their synthetic cleaning products, anti-mosquito sprays,
and medicines. Now researchers are tapping them
as candidates to preserve food in a more con-sumer-friendly way. A study from ACS’s Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports the development of new edible films containing oils from
clove and oregano that preserve bread longer than
Nilda de F. F. Soares and colleagues note that the search for new
ways to keep packaged food from spoiling has led some to essential
oils, which can keep bacteria and mold at bay. Oils from clove and
oregano had already been incorporated into edible films, but they
had not yet been optimized for effectiveness and tested under real-life conditions for other uses. So Soares’s team decided to test how
well different edible films with clove and oregano essential oils could
maintain bread’s freshness and see how they measured up against
a commercial antimicrobial agent. Bread is often kept fresh with
calcium propionate. Although it occurs naturally, some research suggesting negative side effects has tarnished its popularity.
The scientists bought preservative-free bread and placed slices
in plastic bags with or without essential oil-infused edible films.
To some slices, they added a commercial preservative containing
calcium propionate. After 10 days, the latter additive lost its effectiveness, but the edible films made with nanodroplets of the oils continued to slow mold growth.
Read more about the research: “Edible Films from Methylcel-lulose and Nanoemulsions of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum) and
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Essential Oils as Shelf Life Extenders for
Sliced Bread,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62( 22), pp. 5214–5219.
A more earth-friendly
way to make
With a growing number
of consumers demanding
more earth-friendly practices from
the fashion world, researchers are developing new ways to produce textiles that could
help meet rising expectations. They report
in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering
Chemistry Research one such method that can
dramatically reduce the amount of energy it
takes to bleach cotton while improving
the quality of the popular material.
Quan Zu and colleagues point out that the
cotton industry’s current whitening techniques
require bleaching the natural fiber at very
high temperatures with hydrogen peroxide.
Although this method results in the bright
white material consumers have grown so fond
of, it also lowers the quality of the material and
takes a lot of energy to carry out. Multiply that by
the 7. 3 billion pounds of cotton produced each year in the United
States alone, and the energy needs soar. To cut down on the energy the textile
industry uses to bleach cotton, Zu’s team targeted its efforts toward lowering
the bleaching technique’s high temperatures.
They developed a novel compound based on amino nitriles that, when
used with hydrogen peroxide, decreases the bleaching temperature from
200 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The authors estimated
that 60-degree difference would result in a process requiring less than half
the energy of the commercial technique. It also produced less wastewater,
improved the weight of the material, and performed its original function—
whitening the cotton. Since many materials destined to become clothing eventually take on various hues, the scientists also tested dyes and found the cotton
bleached at the lower temperature could be made just as vibrant as its high-heat counterpart. They successfully showed the treatment’s effectiveness on
knitted cotton fabric in commercial-scale trials.
Read more about the research: “A Novel Low Temperature Approach for
Simultaneous Scouring and Bleaching of Knitted Cotton Fabric at 60°C,” Ind.
Eng. Chem. Res., May 17, 2014 (Web).
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