Plastic-Wrap Got You Down? Try ‘Milk-Wrap’ for Your Food

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

Whether or not you’re trying to be environmentally cautious or not, I think we can all agree that plastic sitting in landfills until the end of time is not the best thing.

Just, no.

So you might be interested to know that the USDA is developing a film (for wrapping food products in) made from the milk protein casein. The film resembles store-bought plastic wrap, but is less stretchy. Researchers are already seeing multiple benefits from using the film. First, it’s biodegradable, sustainable, and edible. Less plastic means less of it sitting in trash heaps. While edible products are not new (I once at an entire fork made from corn in college just because, you know, it was edible), this film looks to replace some of the most often discarded plastic products, those made for pre-packaged food.

The casein proteins are also naturally effective at blocking oxygen, a major cause of food spoilage. When compared to plastics, the casein-based films are around 500 times more effective at keeping the oxygen away. The protein also creates a film that has smaller pores, adding yet another preventative barrier for oxygen. Cold supply chain will need to worry less about spoilage because the product being transferred is wrapped in better packaging.

Potential uses of the product are really starting to blow up. It can be sprayed on other foods and also eventually dissolves (safely) in water, so things like soup packets could be entirely self contained.  Definitely check out this video they did on the product, because it kind of blew my mind a little. Science is SO COOL!

Who knows, maybe my string cheese will one day come wrapped in its cousin. And before I eat the cheese, I’ll eat the wrapper…

Yeah, this is what makes science cool.

(And no, Milk-Wrap is not the official name, but I had to come up with something vaguely clever. I don’t name things, I just report on them.)