Technology Description: ARS researchers have developed new film coatings, which are edible, biodegradable and compostable. These new films were made using casein (a milk protein) from a solution with carbon dioxide. Other commercial films made from calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, or whey deteriorate when moisture levels are increased. These new films are less permeable to water vapor and can withstand increased moisture levels. These films can be used as coatings to coat fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to slow or prevent moisture loss. Because they may possess some of the properties of collagen, they may also be useful in grafts for biomedical applications in wound dressing, controlled delivery of drugs, and dialysis membranes.
Inedible casings typically cost $7-$8/pound, while edible casings cost $12-$16/pound. Most edible casings are made from collagen. CO2-casein has been estimated to cost almost as much as calcium caseinate at about $3.00/lb. This technology should be comparable in costs to manufacture.
This technology is applicable to the food processing industry. Companies engaged in food treatments and preservation would benefit from this technology. Biomedical companies may also be interested in investigating this technology’s applications for medical use.
Reference: Please refer to USPN 6,379,726 (Docket #0172.97), “Edible, Water-Solubility Resistant Casein Masses,” which issued April 30, 2002, and S.N. 11/004,482 (Docket #0125.03), “Continuous Processes to Make Films from Agricultural Material,” which was filed on December 3, 2004. This is a related technology for making films. Foreign rights are not available for either invention.
Peggy M. Tomasula
Dairy Processing and Products Research
Wyndmoor, PA 19038-8598