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GAIKER-IK4 develops packaging, based on waste from crustaceans, that extends life of products

It is an international project in which scientists from México, Portugal and Spain take part

2011/02/22  GAIKER-IK4 is taking part in an international project to design active packaging with antimicrobian and antioxidant properties and led by the Sonora Technological Institute in México. The objective is to prolong the useful life of food packaging while preserving its original properties. To achieve this, the technological centre is developing both the material and their transformation processes, in such a way that molecules with antimicrobian and antioxidant properties can be incorporated into the packaging. The molecules are chitosan and astaxanthin - antimicrobian and antioxidant respectively.

Both agents are obtained from a shrimp sub-product (head and exoskeleton) by means of extraction and purification after lactic fermentation. These compounds are subsequently incorporated into the polythene and polyamide plastic matrixes in order to prepare the active packaging.

Chitosan is obtained from chitin, a structural element of the exoskeleton of crustacea (crabs, lobsters, shrimps, etc.). The antimicrobial capacity of this compound against bacteria and fungi is high, and it is also notable for its absence of toxicity.

Astaxanthin is a red-coloured pigment present naturally in a great variety of living organisms. Chemically it is a carotenoid which, unlike the others, does not transform into vitamin A (retinol) in the human body. It is a powerful antioxidant with a capacity 500 times that of Vitamin A. Moreover, astaxanthin, unlike vitamin A, is not toxic at high concentrations.

Once the first packaging prototypes are developed, GAIKER-IK4 will evaluate both their antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity in the presence of food pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Eschirechia coli and Aspergillus niger. Finally, all these process will be upsized to an industrial scale through corresponding pilot trials.

Besides the participation of Sonora-México Technological Institute and GAIKER-IK4, the following are also taking part in the research: The Food and Development Research Centre and the Bioderpac company – both based in Mexico, the University of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) and the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute of Portugal.
info:  Clara Bilbao,

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