Feds back research on antimicrobial food packaging

Research on the use of antimicrobial compounds in packaging to prevent mould and bacteria growth on fruits and vegetables, boosting their export range, will get over a quarter million dollars in federal funding.

Innovative Food Systems Corp., based at Summerland, B.C., about 40 km south of Kelowna, will receive over $261,000 through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) initiative to work with federal researchers on such technology.

Research will focus on adapting “natural, known antimicrobial compounds” into commercial packaging systems to prevent fungi, mould and/or bacteria from developing on food.

“The packaging will preserve ripe fruits and vegetables without compromising freshness, quality and safety,” the government said in a release Friday.

The quality and distribution range of horticultural products could thus be extended from a week to over a month and would allow growers to “capitalize on global demand for their products,” the government said.

“With this new technology, produce can be protected from many common food pathogens. This is important for fresh produce consumed in the home but also to the institutional food suppliers,” company CEO Perry Lidster said in the government’s release. “This is a win-win for everyone.”

The benefits of such wrapping could extend beyond the agri-food sector and into the manufacturing sector as well, through increased production of the packaging, the government said.

The DIAP initiative requires all activities — including invoices, auditing and reporting — in its funded projects to be completed by the end of March 2013.

DIAP, launched in May 2009 as part of the Growing Canadian Agri-Innovations program, has already allocated its entire budget to various research and development work.

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