Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Active anti-microbial packaging film based on sorbic acid

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Active anti-microbial packaging film based on sorbic acid
Fraunhofer Institute has demonstrated the effectiveness of an anti-microbial packaging film using sorbic acid which incorporates a controlled release mechanism
In Development – There is not yet a manufacturer involved in this R and D work, but the researchers are in talks with film manufacturers with a view to making the matieral commercially available in hte future.

Product Waste Reduction

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
Plastic – Flexible

Relevant Packaging Formats
Flexible & Films

Supply Chain Phase
Raw materials / Ingredients


Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising has developed and tested a new, lacquer-based antimicrobial active film which incorporates a controlled release mechanism. On direct contact an antimicrobial agent is released onto the product surface, which is the primary point of attack for germs.
Using very small quantities of active agent, the packaging provides effective protection for the food. Only active agents that comply with the rules governing foodstuffs may be considered for use in these films; they must not be poisonous or allergenic, and must be neutral in terms of smell and taste. Furthermore, any active agent must be readily transferrable onto packaging film.
Taking into account all these considerations, the researchers elected to use sorbic acid, which is dissolved in a lacquer and deposited on a base film. The effectiveness of the antimicrobial films was tested on several pieces of pork loin. A day after slaughter, each piece was contaminated with around 1,000 colony-forming units of the E. coli pathogen. They were then wrapped, some in standard and some in active film. After seven days in a fridge at eight degrees Celsius, clear differences in color were already apparent. Microbial examination revealed that the active packaging had successfully destroyed many of the germs on the actively-packed meat: The number of E. coli bacteria on those pieces had decreased to around a quarter of the original level.

Potential Benefits

The principal benefit that could be achieved through the further development and successful implementation of this packaging material is extended shelf-life and hence reduced food wastage in both the supply chain and in the home.

Intellectual Property

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft E.V. has a World Patent - WO/2006/133754  Method for producing an antimicrobial coating on a technical surface.

Consultant View

This is one of many R&D projects working towards developing and demonstrating new anti-microbial packaging materials. EU Regulation 450/2009 recognises that these types of materials can extend shelf-life of packaged food. Under this regulation, materials are permitted to incorporate components specifically designed to release substances into or onto the food stuff, so long as the substances are non-toxic and non-allergenic and they are neutral in terms of taste and smell. Examples of anti-microbial packaging already on the market incorporate substances such as silver, wasabi, and ethanol. Research is concentrating on identifying and utilising naturally occuring anti-microbial agents (e.g. plant derived).

Contacts and Further Information

Company details:
Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
Freising Giggenhauser StraÃse 35 85354 Freising
Technology contact details:
For further information about this research, contact Carolin Hauser, Food Chemist
Tel: +49 8161 491-626

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