Applications of Chitosan as Food Packaging Materials

  • Patricia Cazón
  • Manuel VázquezEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 36)


The interest in biopolymers has increased due to the depletion of the fossil fuel reserve and the environmental impact caused by the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic-based packaging materials. Many biopolymers have been developed from food waste products to reduce this waste and, at the same time, to obtain new food packaging materials. Chitosan is thus an alternative to synthetic polymers, and a raw material for new materials. To assess the suitability of a material as a food packaging material, it is necessary to study their mechanical and permeability properties. Mechanical properties allow to predict the behaviour of films during transportation, handling and storage of packaged foods. Barrier properties play a key role in maintaining the food product quality. Properties values depend on the type of chitosan used. Mechanical and barrier properties of pure chitosan films are suitable for food packaging and active packaging. These properties can be modified by combining chitosan with other components such as plasticizers, other polysaccharides, proteins and lipids. These combinations adapt the properties of the final polymer to the needs of the food to extend its useful life, while maintaining quality properties of the food and the biodegradability of the polymer.

Chitosan displays antimicrobial activity against a wide range of foodborne filamentous fungi, yeast, and gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. This antimicrobial property and film-forming capacity has made chitosan the reference polymer to develop active packaging with the ability to inhibit the growth of microorganisms and improve food safety. Regarding the optical properties, pure chitosan films in the visible range show high transmittance values, being optically transparent films. This is an important parameter related to the acceptability of the films by the consumer. In addition, chitosan-based films exhibit remarkable UV absorbance, which allows to protect food from lipid oxidations induced by UV radiation.


Film Mechanical properties Barrier properties Antimicrobial UV protect Active food packaging 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of VeterinaryUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaLugoSpain

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