New biodegradable silk-based coating could extend shelf-life of fresh produce and reduce food waste

A recent study on an unprecedented approach to food preservation is making headlines across the globe. Published in Nature magazine, the article discusses the use of a silk protein-based coating that could prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Entirely edible, stable and biodegradable, the silk fibroin solution acts as a barrier to moisture and air, delaying the ripening time of produce.

To test their theory, researchers dipped strawberries in two different concentrations of silk solution and monitored the fruit alongside a control group. Remarkably, the coated strawberries preserved their freshness and firmness better than those without a coating (over a 7-day period). A test was also conducted on bananas, which showed similarly promising results.

This innovation has the potential to greatly reduce food waste and may aid in the struggle for global food security. Here in Canada, the silk coating could be beneficial to remote communities in the Northern reaches of the country by keeping produce fresh during transport. As many of these communities struggle with shockingly high food prices and a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables, developments such as this silk coating may be an important tool in reducing food waste as well as food insecurity.

Read more about the study in the original article here.

Image from http://www.nature.com/articles/srep25263.

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