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antimicrobial agents for food packaging applications


  • Accepted Manuscript

    Antimicrobial agents for food packaging applications

    Suet-Yen Sung, Lee Tin Sin, Tiam-Ting Tee, Soo-Tueen Bee, A.R. Rahmat, W.A.W.A. Rahman, Ann-Chen Tan, M. Vikhraman

    PII: S0924-2244(13)00160-X

    DOI: 10.1016/j.tifs.2013.08.001

    Reference: TIFS 1474

    To appear in: Trends in Food Science & Technology

    Received Date: 22 December 2012

    Revised Date: 26 July 2013

    Accepted Date: 3 August 2013

    Please cite this article as: Sung, S.-Y., Sin, L.T., Tee, T.-T., Bee, S.-T., Rahmat, A.R., W.A. Rahman,W.A., Tan, A.-C., Vikhraman, M, Antimicrobial agents for food packaging applications, Trends in FoodScience & Technology (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2013.08.001.

    This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service toour customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergocopyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form. Pleasenote that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and alllegal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.

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    Antimicrobial packaging is multifunctional by reducing harmful microbial activity in food

    Antimicrobial packaging helps to increase food safety. Antimicrobial packaging reduces food wastage and improves food shelf life. Bio-based antimicrobial agents in packaging provide extra safety for health.

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    Antimicrobial agents for food packaging applications 1


    Suet-Yen Sung1, Lee Tin Sin1, Tiam-Ting Tee1, Soo-Tueen Bee1, A. R. Rahmat2, W.A.W.A. 3

    Rahman2, Ann-Chen Tan1, Vikhraman, M1. 4

    1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Science, Universiti 5

    Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Genting Kelang, 53300 Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 6

    2 Department of Polymer Engineering, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universiti 7

    Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 UTM Skudai, Johor, Malaysia. 8


    *Corresponding author. Tel: +60 3 4107 9802; Fax: +603 4107 9803. 10

    Email: and 11


    Abstract 13


    Foods contamination leading to spoilage and growth of pathogenic microorganisms 15

    can happen when exposed to environment during slaughtering, processing, packaging and 16

    shipping. Although traditional food preservation methods such as drying, heating, freezing, 17

    fermentation and salting can extend food shelf-life, it is not consummate especially to inhibit 18

    the growth of pathogenic microorganisms that may endanger consumers health. 19

    Antimicrobial packaging is a novel development that incorporates antimicrobial agent into 20

    polymer film to suppress the activities of targeted microorganisms. However, antimicrobial 21

    packaging is still an extremely challenging technology and there are only a few 22

    commercialized products found in the market. This review focuses on analyzing the 23

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    antimicrobial agent development for the past decades till recent technology. The information 24

    about performance of antimicrobial packaging such as microbiology performance and 25

    physico-mechanical properties of the packaging film were discussed. It is expected such 26

    information would provide an overview as well as promote the development of antimicrobial 27

    packaging in the food related field and industry. 28


    Keywords: Antimicrobial; Packaging; Polymer 30


    1. Introduction 32


    It is well known that the primary functions of packaging are to isolate foods from 34

    external environment and protects the foods against deterioration by the actions of 35

    microorganisms, moisture, gases, dusts, odors as well as mechanical forces (Cooksey, 2010). 36

    The exposures of these degradation agents tend to reduce the shelf-life of foods as well as 37

    affecting consumers health when foods are contaminated by microorganisms related food-38

    borne diseases. Contamination could occur anywhere when food is being exposed to open 39

    environment such as during slaughtering, post processing, distribution, shipping, and storage 40

    or retail display stages. Thus, a good packaging should act as a barrier system to reduce 41

    passage of surrounding contaminants into foods. Meanwhile, the packaging must be inert, 42

    non-toxic, impermeable to microorganisms and strong enough to withstand possible amount 43

    of mechanical forces from easily rupture. In addition to the functions of extending shelf-life 44

    and maintaining food quality, packaging also important for marketing and advertising, 45

    standardizing, provides useful information to consumers while making products more usable 46

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    and convenience (Cooksey, 2010). In short speaking, packaging functions for containment, 47

    protection, convenience, and communication. 48


    Commonly, microbial contamination is the main reason for food spoilage. Traditional 50

    methods of preserving foods include fermentation, drying, adding antimicrobial agents 51

    (organic acids, plants, and salts), thermal processing, freezing, refrigeration, modified 52

    atmosphere and irradiation have been employed long times ago. All these methods possess 53

    their own limitation especially when attempting to apply on fresh meats (Quintavalla & 54

    Vivini, 2002). Inasmuch, varieties of packaging systems have been developed as alternatives 55

    to preserve foods for different attributes and applications. For example, overwrap packaging 56

    are designed for short term refrigeration storage, whereas modified atmosphere packaging 57

    (MAP) or vacuum packaging are utilized for long term storage. 58


    In addition to the public demand for foods with extended shelf-life, the safety of foods 60

    has become the major consideration especially after the World Trade Center tragedy 61

    happened in year 2001. Public started to concern on foods and water supplies as a form of 62

    bioterrorism (Nestle, 2003). Besides, food-borne pathogenic microorganisms outbreaks issue 63

    has been frequently occurring without effective solution. Hence, the current trend of food 64

    packaging system are concerning about developing more innovative approaches to inhibit 65

    pathogenic microbial activities in foods. Plenty of products such as active packaging and 66

    intelligent packaging have been developed to meet crucial safety requirements. For instance, 67

    antimicrobial (AM) packaging which is under the family of active packaging is made from 68

    packaging system containing AM agents. The usage of AM packaging has more advantages 69

    compared to direct adding of AM agents onto foods because AM agents added on food 70

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    surfaces by sprays or drips are not effective enough to inhibit microorganisms. This is due to 71

    rapid diffusion of AM agent into foods and denaturization of the active substances by food 72

    constituents which reduce the reactivity of AM agent. Whereas, AM packaging offers slow 73

    and continuous migration of AM agent from packaging material to food surfaces which 74

    enable AM agent to maintain at high concentration over a long period (Quintavalla, & Vicini, 75

    2002). 76


    Basically, the purposes of AM agents in packaging are to provide safety assurance, 78

    shelf-life extension and quality maintenance on food. AM packaging are able to inhibit 79

    spoilage and suppress food-borne illness microbial that potentially contaminates food 80

    products (Hotchkiss, 1997). Generally, AM packaging is designed to address one property or 81

    requirement of the foods. For example, for the purpose of extend food shelf-life, the AM 82

    agents chosen must be able to inhibit the food native spoilage microorganisms. In the past 83

    decades, large numbers of AM food packaging products were developed from novel plastic 84

    materials and AM agents. Most of the products are proven able to control the growth of 85

    microbial and prolong food shelf-life effectively. However, there are only a few 86

    commercialized products found in the market. This may be due to several reasons such as 87

    strict safety and hygiene regulations, limited consumer acceptance on product effectiveness 88

    and high cost. Table 1 lists numerous commercial products of AM food packaging. 89


    The most popular commercialized products available in the market are those 91

    packaging that use volatile gas-form AM-agents such as chlorine dioxide, ethanol and sulfur 92

    dioxide. These AM agents are often enclosed separately in sachets/pads that are attached to 93

    the internal part of the package. The AM agents will release in vapor form to the headspace 94

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    of packaging to contact with food products (Appendini, & Hotchkiss, 2002). Commercial 95

    product includes Microgarde as marketed by BarrierSafe Solutions International Inc., USA 96

    exists in stickers or sheets for