Food packing that you can eat!
Scientists have developed a new food packing that can be eaten along with the items inside, an invention they say could transform how we eat and slash the plastic use.
Developed by researchers in France, the edible packaging called WikiCells is designed to mimic how fruit and vegetables are “packaged” in nature with a protective outer layer or skin you can eat.
“The idea was to use the model of how nature wraps foods,” said Dr David Edwards, a professor from Harvard who led the research.
Dr Edwards and his team has developed a range of yoghurt pots, juice cartons, water bottles and ice cream containers that mimic natural packaging by enclosing food and liquid in an edible membrane.
The containers are designed to be a similar shape to the fruits they seek to copy and are created using an edible plastic, which is a combination of algae and calcium. This is mixed with food particles, such as cocoa or fruit, so that the packaging tastes like what is inside.
The packages can be used to keep both solids and liquids including soup, cheese, cocktails, fizzy drinks and coffee. Those containing liquids can be pierced with a straw and the contents drunk before they are eaten, the researchers said.
The membranes can be washed under a tap and eaten, just like the skin of an apple, they said.
So far, the researchers working on the packaging at a laboratory in Paris have created examples including filling an orange membrane with orange juice, a tomato-flavoured skin with soup and mini-membranes the size of grapes that are full of wine.
“You could put the little grape membranes in your mouth whole and squash them so you get the wine inside. Everything is useful and everything is good for you. You don’t throw things away,” Dr Edwards said.
The first product expected to go on sale will be Wiki Ice Cream, which will launch at the end of the summer with vanilla ice cream frozen inside a cookie dough- flavoured membrane, the researchers said.