A biodegradable food spray that protects fresh salmon and reduces packing costs

A new biodegradable food spray has been developed by UEA researchers and iBoxit that will protect fresh salmon and reduce costs for the packing industry.

Traditional packaging used in salmon industry

 

A start-up company based on the Norwich Research Park, iBoxit, in conjunction with UEA academics, has developed a novel food spray which has effective antimicrobial properties for protecting food during primary packaging.

The collaboration has developed a formulation that can:

1) effectively protect the fish surface from microbial contamination;

2) is safe to ingest or can be easily rinsed off before use, depending on customer preference;

3) is compatible with existing methods for salmon packaging and capable of being implemented with minimum cost and disruption.

 

The challenge

 

The primary packaging of raw fish is a major component of the Scottish salmon industry.

While much of the packaging is automated, there remains some manual handling procedures, which bring with it the danger of microbial contamination. The challenge is therefore to mitigate the manual handling part of the packaging process by adding an automated antimicrobial treatment step.

 

The approach

 

Researchers at UEA have applied their expertise in material science and formulation development to develop a new spray product that has good “sprayability”, providing ease of use in an automated industrial setting with the necessary antimicrobial qualities to ensure maximum freshness for the fish.

The UEA team have been working with iBoxit to optimise formulations for an initial test product.

 

The outcome

 

The formulation is safe, fully biodegradable and offers enhanced protection from microbial contamination over existing methods when applied directly to raw fish or other food surfaces. iBoxit are receiving lots of interest in this product and are excited to see how this could grow their business, both nationally and internationally.

iBoxit MD, John Farley said:

“We were very happy to receive funding from EIRA to work on this innovative project. The project has allowed us to expand our product range and provide a much-needed, cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional packaging used in the fishing industry. We’ve been pleased with how much interest the anti-microbial food spray has attracted already and are excited about future developments. Working with academics from UEA has been a really positive experience, giving our business insight and expertise to grow.”

 

Next steps

 

The initial target market for the new product will be the wet fish industry. The new spray will be incorporated into automated food packaging lines to minimise contamination from manual handling at the selection stage of processing.