A new bio-resin made from tomato plant by-products could make it safer to eat canned foods in the future. Although eating fresh food is great for our health, it can be troublesome on the wallet. Fresh food spoils, sometimes very quickly. That’s why we’ve come up with all sorts of food packaging and preservation techniques that help extend the shelf life of our favorite foods. Unfortunately, these cans and plastic trappings are terrible for the planet, and sometimes leach dangerous toxins into the food itself. But a new European project called BIOCOPAC is working to create better packaging, made from tomato waste, that will help keep canned food fresh without harmful chemicals or additives.
Led by Stazione Sperimentale of Italy, the BIOCOPAC consortium is working toward the development of bio-based thermosetting lacquer. Most metal food packaging has a BPA-filled liner or chemical-based lacquer to prevent corrosion. While these substances help keep the can intact, it does terrible things to the food inside. To find a way around this problem, the BIOCOPAC team took a closed look at waste products of the tomato-canning industry.
“The partners are using environmentally friendly techniques to extract the bio-resin from tomato peel. The bio-resin is actually cutin – a wax-like water-repellent material found in the walls of various plant cells,” reports Phys.org.
According to a 2012 press release, BIOCOPAC’s research concept is based on an old patent developed by SSICA in the 1940s. “This project has the potential to fuel research into other bio-based products, which in turn could deliver effective tools and affordable alternatives for other markets. Ultimately, the research will lead to improved use of Europe’s renewable agri-food resources and support companies’ efforts to become ‘greener’, by providing safe and recyclable metal packaging,” states the release.