A concise guide to active agents for active food packaging

Carla Vilela, Mia Kurek, Zvi Hayouka, Bettina Röcker, Selçuk Yildirim, Maria Dulce C. Antunes, Julie Nilsen-Nygaard, Marit Kvalvåg Pettersen, Carmen S.R. Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The ever-growing world population results in the ineluctable increase of food demand which translates in the augment of the global market of packaging materials. Hence, the concept of active packaging materializes as a technology to enhance the safety, quality and shelf-life of the packaged foods. Active packaging systems can contribute to the reduction of food waste by providing, apart from an inert barrier to external conditions, several functions associated with food preservation, namely absorbing/scavenging, releasing/emitting and removing properties, temperature, microbial and quality control. Scope and approach: The purpose of this review is to present a concise (but wide-ranging) appraisal on the latest advances in active agents for active food packaging. Emphasis is placed on active functions such as antimicrobial and antioxidant activity, oxygen and ethylene scavenging, and carbon dioxide emitting. An effort was made to highlight representative articles that prompted research on active agents towards viable market solutions. Key findings and conclusions: Active packaging is a thriving field given its duality as barrier to external detrimental factors and active role in food preservation and quality. The use of natural active agents is a flourishing field due to the general concern towards natural-based additives. Nevertheless, research is still in its early stages with a long way to go in the design of innovative and economical active packaging materials containing appropriate active agents. The interaction between packaging, environment and food is the key challenge for achieving commercial translation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)212-222
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Active agents
  • Active food packaging
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Carbon dioxide emitters
  • Oxygen and ethylene scavengers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology


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