All-Natural And Eco-Friendly Silk Coating Technology Aims To Lessen Food Waste And Plastic Use

When you think about silk, your mind will probably go to fabrics first, right? At least, that’s what my mind does. But did you know that we can use silk for our foods, as well?

PHOTO: Unsplash/Susan Wilkinson

Mori Silk™ sounds luxurious, as are most silk products, but it’s not silk made for the textile industry. Benedetto Marelli first launched Mori, a biotech startup, and they are an anti-waste company that specializes in a natural type of protection for all kinds of foods to keep them fresher for longer.

The technology being developed utilizes silk proteins for applications to different kinds of food. According to the developers, their technology can be applied quickly and easily to any shape, size, or texture, and this is done through either dunking the food in the silk proteins or just by simply spaying them over the produce. This incredible process aims to help reduce food waste and the need for other unsustainable means of preservation, such as fungicides, chemicals, and plastic packaging.

PHOTO: Scientific Reports (Sci Rep)/Silk Fibroin as Edible Coating for Perishable Food Preservation/Marelli, B. et al.
Researcher’s Figure 4: Evaluation of bananas ripening with and without crystalline silk coating

In the Scientific Reports journal, Marelli and his team published an article that focuses on their research on silk fibroin and how it can be used as an alternative for food preservation with a naturally derived material. The scientists were able to use and repurpose the fibroin protein, labeled as a waste product of the silk industry, found in silk fibers.

Marelli and his team used the fibroin protein to create a water-based product that is able to self-assemble on the surface of food upon dip coating. The fibroin protein can be turned into a colorless liquid, and, by coating almost any food in it, it can extend its shelf-life by an average of a week at room conditions. The Mori Silk, the all-natural and edible coating, is created by using salt, water, and heat to extract the fibroin protein, and it aims to keep food from going to waste by using a sustainable and eco-friendly process.

PHOTO: Unsplash/ThisisEngineering RAEng

Their company promises to keep our food “naturally fresher for longer.” And their efforts are widely recognized for their amazing innovation, not only for the produce industry but also for the farming industry and, more importantly, for our environment.

Food waste has been an ongoing problem, and experts say that, by some estimates, more than 40% of packaged foods and produce end up in the trash, while millions of people still end up malnourished.

The silk coating technology is something that aims to help reduce food waste in the long run with a process that offers sustainable and all-natural protection for our food, allowing for significantly less single-use plastics and limiting food waste.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Jasmin Sessler

Tony DeLio, a chemical engineer and an expert on agricultural-related industries, said that “an edible coating has been a ‘holy grail’ project in the food industry for a long time” and that tackling a product’s shelf life has been a lifelong struggle.

Another notable figure on sustainability, Jake Hebert, also commended the Mori Silk coating technology. “A solution that provides an extension to the usefulness of foods, reduces the waste stream and the reliance on plastic for industrial products like the one proposed by Marelli is just what is needed for the development of a cyclical economy,” he said.

Watch the video below for a quick summary on how silk coating can extend the shelf life of food.

We all need to do what we can as food wastage is a worldwide problem. Lots of effort from various people are doing whatever they can to fight food waste, check out some of our articles that tackle this issue: From students fighting the issue by forming a nonprofit, companies partnering with other organizations like Mori, and nonprofits like the Second Servings and Last Mile Food Rescue who redistributes food waste before it gets thrown out.

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