Mostly, food packaging employs synthetic materials obtained from nonrenewable sources. These packaging materials are based on petrochemicals and cause substantial environmental problems by producing massive amounts of non-biodegradable solid wastes. Edible coatings and films are considered as the potential solution to these problems of non-biodegradable packaging solid wastes for maintaining food-environment interactions, retaining food quality, and extending shelf life. In addition, edible coatings and films offer prevention from microbial spoilage of packed foods by controlling moisture and gas barrier characteristics. Increasing environmental concerns and consumer demands for high-quality eco-friendly packaging have fueled the advancement of innovative packaging technologies, for instance, the development of biodegradable films from renewable agricultural and food processing industry wastes. Therefore, the current chapter presents the application of edible coatings and films as an alternative to conventional packaging, emphasizing the fundamental characterization that these biodegradable packaging should hold for specific applications such as food preservation and shelf life enhancement. The primary employed components (e.g., biopolymers, bioactive, and additives components), manufacturing processes (for edible films or coatings), and their application to specific foods have all been given special consideration in this chapter. Besides, a future vision for the use of edible films and coatings as quality indicators for perishable foods is presented.
Part of the book: A Glance at Food Processing Applications