Active antimicrobial packaging is a promising form of active packaging that can kill or inhibit microorganism growth in order to maintain product quality and safety. One of the most common approaches is based on the release of volatile antimicrobial agents from the packaging material such as essential oils. Due to their highly volatile nature, the challenge is to preserve the essential oils during the high-temperature melt processing of the polymer, while maintaining high antimicrobial activity for a desired shelf life. This study suggests a new approach in order to achieve this goal. Antimicrobial active films are developed based on low-density polyethylene (LDPE), organo-modified montmorillonite clays (MMT) and carvacrol (used as an essential oil model). In order to minimize carvacrol loss throughout the polymer compounding, a pre-compounding step is developed in which clay/carvacrol hybrids are produced. The hybrids exhibit a significant increase in the d-spacing of clay and enhanced thermal stability. The resulting LDPE/(clay/carvacrol) films exhibit superior and prolonged antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli and Listeria innocua, while polymer compounded with pure carvacrol loses the antibacterial properties within days. The films also present an excellent antifungal activity against Alternaria alternata, used as a model plant pathogenic fungus. Furthermore, infrared spectroscopy analysis of the LDPE/(clay/carvacrol) system displayed significantly higher carvacrol content in the film as well as a slower out-diffusion of the carvacrol molecules in comparison to LDPE/carvacrol films. Thus, these new films have a high potential for antimicrobial food packaging applications due to their long-lasting and broad-spectrum antimicrobial efficacy.
- Essential oils
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics