Antimicrobial technology developer, Parx Materials, has created a new technique to keep fish fresher for longer. Derived from the human immune system, the technique uses a trace element of the body that occurs naturally in products such as oysters, red meat and green vegetables. The breakthrough could help to reduce the estimated 6,800 tons of fish wasted from UK supermarkets each year.
The element used in the packaging is important in our diet and is vital for the human immune system. It has important functions in blood, bone, skin, cells and nails. The material in question is the trace element of zinc. However, unlike other antimicrobial additives that use metals to kill bacteria, Parx Materials has developed a way for this micronutrient to become part of the packaging material without escaping or leaking out.
Due to this unique mechanism, it is therefore a safe and healthy element that does not escape from the packaging and cannot end up on the product. The effect of the technique can be compared to the way in which the skin makes people resistant to bacteria and viruses from the outside.
The presence of the mineral in the skin and in the packaging ensures that bacteria cannot adhere to these surfaces. Bacteria are not killed, but by preventing adhesion, there is no accumulation or colony of bacteria on the surface. For most bacteria, attachment is necessary to enable them to take in food and to multiply. Without attachment, no new bacteria will appear and the bacteria already present will simply die according to their normal life cycle, which is an average period of about three to four hours.
Fish is seen as a high value product. When the freshness can be maintained for longer, it provides additional opportunities for distribution and results in less food waste.