Researchers Develop “Rechargeable” Plastic Film to Battle Biofilms


Researchers have taken the next step in active packaging by developing a plastic film made with bacteria killing polymers, or numerous molecules all strung together. A method in which researchers have proven to be an effective approach in the fight against biofilms.

Biofilms—a thin, slimy film of bacteria that can stick to a surface—increase bacterial resistance to antimicrobials, as well as to disinfectants, according to the American Society of Microbiology. Biofilms can even function in some respects like a tissue, possessing a primitive circulatory system.

But, by modifying the polymer of plastic films, researchers have established a rechargeable disinfecting material that can be applied to conveyer belts, food-contact surfaces, utensils, as well as other equipment. However, researchers are still in the process of formulating the plastic film.

“Currently, we do not have an active approach to continuously prevent deposition of bacteria during food processing operations,” said Nitin Nitin, a professor and engineer with the departments of Food Science and Technology. “And can only remove these deposits after processing – during a cleaning shift.”

The research team targeted biofilms because they are “the leading cause of cross contamination of food and non-food materials upon contact with contaminated surfaces,” according to the research results published in Applied Environmental Microbiology.

The research team not only succeeded in preventing the formation of biofilms by killing bacteria, but were also able to kill existing biofilms on food production surfaces by applying the plastic film.

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