Edible Packaging – Would You?

Food packagingProbably not the most mouth watering thought, but edible packaging is being publicised as technology’s next big thing in the food industry.

Heston Blumenthal’s already been experimenting with edible packaging for years. He has created salted caramels wrappers and has also been wrapping palatable paper around packets of soup. Now, two companies in the USA are striving to be the first to release wrappers you can eat commercially.

Dr David Edwards from Havard will be leading the way, he has previously created a “breathable” chocolate called Le Whif and is now focusing on WikiCells, which is an edible membrane made from food particles and biogradible polymer – that can replicate “bottles” found in nature, for example grape skins.

Dr Edwards and his team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have created a tomato membrane containing gazpacho soup, a grape like membrane holding hot chocolate, a membrane holding wine and an orange membrane filled with orange juice that can be sipped through a straw. Dr Edwards believes that any flavour is possible!

Based in Leicester, Pepceuticals won a £1.3m European research contract to create and develop edible packaging for fresh meat, which can reduce waste. The company also says it could increase shelf life of the meat.

According to research, consumers in the UK spend more cash on meat than any other food but waste a huge 570,000 tonnes each year.

Pepceuticals said, “The potential to apply an antimicrobial film in the processing factory should significantly prevent the deterioration of the fresh meat product, and save waste. It will revolutionise the look and feel of the traditional meat counter,”

Food packaging and waste has been brought up many times, so the benefits of food packaging that can increase shelf life as well as reduce waste are of interest to many people including consumers, UK restaurant insurance providers, manufacturers, restaurants and other food outlets.

The Government’s waste advisor, Wrap, has released the latest figures that packaging waste in the UK supply chain is approximately 6.6m tonnes a year and costs £5bn.

Dr Edwards also has a not for profit organisation called MEND and develops vaccines in spray form through the organisation. He believes that edible bottles could be hugely beneficial to the developing world. He says, “People in a village in Africa could become plastic bottle-free and make things for themselves,” he says. “It’s really exciting from a humanitarian point of view.”

Before edible wrapping goes on the menu, food safety regulators will have to approve it first.

I wonder what will be done to prevent the edible wrapping being too manhandled. What are your thoughts? Would you eat the wrapping?

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