Spain's Technological Institute of Plastics (Aimplas) has developed garlic-infused packaging that increases the shelf life of the food inside it.
Aimplas co-ordinated the European research project Pla4Food. This initiative led to the creation of a new generation of food packaging materials that combine biodegradable and active properties, as well as natural extracts – including garlic molecules.
The active natural additives are only found in the inner layer of the packaging. Over time, these molecules release their antioxidant, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, helping to preserve the food inside. The outer layer of the packaging incorporates moisture absorbers to help keep the contents dry – particularly important for foodstuffs such as salad leaves.
In tests, vegetables placed in the garlic-infused packaging were still suitable for consumption well beyond their sell-by date, while those with the same shelf life in conventional packaging were mouldy, soft and wet.