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CuanTec has extended shelf-life by 40% using standard packaging film with a layer of naturally antimicrobial chitosan. Photo: CuanTec.
CuanTec has extended shelf-life by 40% using standard packaging film with a layer of naturally antimicrobial chitosan. Photo: CuanTec.

A biodegradable packaging material that can extend the shelf-life of salmon by 40% should be available in about a year to 18 months, its Scottish-based developers have said.

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CuanTec uses antimicrobial chitosan derived from langoustine shells as the basis for its food contact material.

The company, based in Oban and Motherwell, has put a layer of chitosan on standard PET/PE laminate packaging and extended the shelf-life by 40%.

It is currently working on gaining the same shelf-life extension from a fully-home compostable packaging film that also has a chitosan layer.

The product would further extend the green credentials of farmed salmon, which already has a lower carbon footprint than other meat proteins and a better food conversion ratio.

Cait Murray-Green:
Cait Murray-Green: "We are seeing no listeria and a reduction in pseudomonas." Photo: CuanTec.

‘No listeria’

CuanTec chief executive Dr Cait Murray-Green that tests with the packaging were promising.

“We are seeing no listeria and we are seeing a reduction in pseudomonas, which are the two main food pathogens that are a problem with salmon,” said Murray-Green.

“We haven’t finalised the formulation, there are all the different aspects of what makes a packaging and we’re not there on all of it, but certainly in terms of can we address the spoilage issue, it looks like we can certainly go a long way to being helpful in that regard.”

Biopolymer

CuanTec uses fermentation to extract the biopolymer chitin from langoustine shells and then converts the chitin into chitosan, which is soluble.

A by-product of the process is a protein-rich liquor which CuanTec hopes can be utilised in salmon feed.

“It has naturally-occurring astaxanthin in it from the langoustine, which I know is attractive to the salmon industry for pinking up the flesh,” said Murray-Green.

Read more about CuanTec’s plans in the current issue of Fish Farming Expert magazine. An online version can be accessed at the top right of this website’s home page.

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