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No matter how much we advance, it seems like some threats never get any smaller. One of those is food-borne illness. E. coli outbreaks from sprouts and fenugreek seeds have been wreaking havoc throughout Europe over the last two months, and the CDC recently released a report stating that salmonella infections in the United States have not only failed to decrease within the past fifteen years, but have actually increased by ten percent. For all the technological leaps and bounds we make, it always seems like those gnarly little pathogens are always one step ahead.
Now, however, Spanish industrial film company Derprosa thinks it may have the answer in the form of a polypropylene film specifically designed to fight E. coli.
“Derprosa’s R+D+i Department has developed a film which adds Antibacterial properties to the range of Co-extrudate (300) and Antifog (307) films,” reads Derprosa’s press release. The new patent-pending DF 301 Antibacterial Co-extrudate and DF 308 Antibacterial Antifog Co-Extrudate films, developed by Derprosa researchers over the course of two years, look and handle the same as their basic packaging films – but unlike their basic films, these new products target E. coli with their combined antifog and antibacterial properties.
These sorts of claims are great, but mean nothing if they can’t be verified. In the case of Derprosa, Independent tests by researchers at IMSL Laboratory confirm that 99.9 percent of bacteria on food products packed in physical contact with the film were found to have been eliminated – in other words, this film could be a game-changer.
Is it an ideal solution? That’s a good question. Whenever chemical-based antibacterial solutions come into play, along with them comes the very real fear that, in the long run, they could actually be contributing to stronger and more resilient strains of bacteria. If E. coli becomes resistant even to Derprosa’s antibacterial film, where do scientists go from there?
But until conditions are safe and E. coli free everywhere, there’s no question that food manufacturers have to have some way of cutting this insidious bacteria off at the pass. For the moment, Derprosa’s antibacterial packaging film could be just what the food-borne illness pathologist ordered.