Welcome to Alumni & Corporate Relations
Researchers at IIT Madras develop anti-bacterial food wrapper

To address the concern of food contamination and plastic waste, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has developed a sustainable antimicrobial wrapping material.

The biodegradable food wrapper developed by the researchers at the institute has an in-built anti-bacterial compound. The wrapper is also safe for consumption.

The research was led by Mukesh Doble, professor, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, and Puja Kumari, research scholar, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras.

The team was recently awarded the ‘SITARE- Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Appreciation 2020’ for their project.

“The biodegradable wrapping material is developed with in-built antibacterial activity to prevent bacterial growth in stored food. The antibacterial compound should be safe for consumption as it is approved by the authorities and does not cause any toxicity,” says Mukesh Doble.

On how the material will help in reducing the plastic waste, he adds, “The wrapping material also degrades at various environmental conditions with the rate of degradation varying from 4 to 98% in 21 days. The wrapping material degraded rapidly in moist conditions when compared to dry ones. Hence, the wrapper is eco-friendly and can play a major role in plastic waste reduction.”

The antibacterial agent selected is also approved by the food authority for consumption and includes eugenol, chlorogenic acid, betanin, curcumin and gallic acid, among others. These compounds are used regularly in Indian food and are known to possess antibacterial, antioxidant and many other beneficial bioactivities.

“Our study found that 99.99% reduction in the bacterial colonies was observed in food samples wrapped with our antibacterial wrap and stored at 30oC for 10 days when compared with a plain wrapper. This study also suggests that our antimicrobial wrapper can, to some extent overcome, the reduced availability of cold storage units. Paneer is known to have a very low shelf life (less than 7 days) and hence extending its shelf life is a major advantage, “ says Muja Kumari.