Project TitleBiodegradable Food Packaging with Anti-Microbial Capabilities
Track Code2016-147
Short Description

Anti-Microbial Biodegradable Food Packaging for Preventing Foodborne Illness

Using sustainable and biodegradable materials, researchers at UGA have developed a new food packaging which effectively inhibits the growth of bacteria known to cause foodborne illness.


As consumers demand more and fresher produce, anti-microbial packaging can help mitigate both the economic loss resulting from spoilage and illness resulting from the growth of microbes.  Anti-microbial packaging can be used to maintain the safety, shelf life, and quality of perishable foods and is particularly applicable to the rapidly growing fresh produce industry, which has seen a large number of outbreaks of foodborne illness over the past two decades. The packaging also uses exclusively biodegradable materials, appealing to the growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers.


Problems Addressed   

Existing anti-microbial food packaging works by spraying or dipping the packaging with the anti-microbial agents, but the anti-microbial activity is often lost due to inactivation by the food components.  While other anti-microbial packaging films apply the anti-microbial agent all at once, this packaging uses a controlled release mechanism to release the antibacterial agent nitric oxide over time.  Nitric oxide inhibits the growth of a wide range of bacteria, with its principal advantage being is efficacy against antibiotic-resistant strains.  Integrating the anti-microbial agent with sustainable and biodegradable packaging also addresses the demand for environmental friendly solutions in the packaging industry by cutting down on waste. 

Technology Summary

The packaging takes the form of a film made with bio-materials interspersed with the nitric oxide anti-microbial agent.  The film slowly releases the nitric oxide, so it effectively fights bacteria over a sustained period of time.  Nitric oxide is used because it has demonstrated anti-bacterial effects and inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause food poisoning.  Most importantly, it is effective even against the growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  Furthermore, the film is made of renewable bio-materials and is fully degradable, unlike traditional petroleum-based plastic packaging.  The use of biodegradable materials together with the anti-microbial properties comprise a food packaging that is safe and eco-friendly, better preserving the quality shelf-life of food.


Hitesh Handa: Assistant Professor at the UGA College of Engineering

Dr. Handa received his BS in Polymer Science and Chemical Technology from the Delhi College of Engineering and his PhD in Material Science and Engineering from Wayne State University and leads the Handa Research Group at UGA.  His research focuses on developing novel materials aimed at preventing infection of medical devices and other technologies.

Sudhagar Mani: Assistant Professor at the UGA College of Engineering

Jaya Sundaram: Assistant Research Scientist at the UGA College of Engineering

Jitendra Pant: PhD Candidate at the UGA College of Engineering

Posted DateJul 21, 2017 10:44 AM