Y. Zhao, J. Jung, J. Simonsen
Oregon State University,
Keywords: nanocellulose, composite coating, fruit crop
Summary:Food waste is a worldwide issue that demands the attention of researchers to improve current methods of growing, storing and processing food. This is particularly true for fruit crops, which face many obstacles on the way from farm to consumers. As a multidisciplinary team with expertise from food science and nanomaterial science, researchers at Oregon State University have been collaborating effectively to study the barrier properties of cellulose nanomaterials (CNs) composite coatings, their interactions and biocompatibility with other functional substances, and their potential applications as food coatings for improving productivity, storability and processing quality of fruit crops. Our studies have built strong fundamental knowledge on a novel approach of using CNs for creating food coatings with superior barrier to water and gases, strong mechanical properties, and stability at a wide range of temperature and humidity environment. In this presentation, we will report 1) the characteristics (size, surface chemistry, and mechanical properties) of different cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) and nanocrystals (CNCs) and their direct contribution to coating performance; 2) interactions of CNFs and CNCs with other active substances in the coating formation for reaching desired hydrophobicity, permeability, wettability, and antimicrobial activity of coatings; 3) the effectiveness of developed coatings for protecting cherries from rainwater during production, delaying quality deterioration of fruit during postharvest storage, and retaining nutritional and physicochemical qualities of processed berry fruit. Our studies not only generated new scientific information about the nanoscale phenomena relevant to food, but also developed practical procedures that are easily adapted for commercial applications.