Yesterday we reported on new research that suggests the dairy ingredient casein could be used in the packaging and coating of foods. Today we learn that food scientists at the University of Arkansas have created an edible film that can prevent the growth of Listeria bacteria on ready-to-eat chicken and other pre-cooked foods.
A report from HealthScoutNews cites how the film consists of two proteins called zein and nisin. The combination is harmless to humans but it kills Listeria bacteria that can contaminate chicken and other foods such as deli meats and hot dogs between the cooking and packaging stages.
Listeria bacteria, which can survive refrigeration, can cause serious illness and poses a special risk to children, the elderly and pregnant women.
To test their protective film, the researchers bought chicken breast tenders, froze them and irradiated them to eliminate bacteria. They then cooked and cooled them and immersed them in Listeria cultures.
The researchers then dipped the chicken pieces in two solutions, one containing a combination of zein and nisin and one containing zein alone. The combination of the two proteins was the most effective in lowering bacterial counts.
The findings are to be published in an upcoming issue of the US Journal of Food Science.