The Unselfish Shellfish

by Abigail Newburger, Jewish Studies

In today’s world, people preserve fresh produce in various ways to protect its integrity during the journey from farm to market to table. Plastic containers, wraps, and preservatives are used to keep our fresh foods staying fresh. What is not so noticeable is the negative impact it has on the environment.

The waste from the food industry’s plastics have negative effects on the environment. These range from clogging water ways and harming aquatic life to creating waste that is non-biodegradable. A solution that could fix these problems is called Chitosan.

Chitosan is derived from Chitin found in the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans and can be transformed into coatings or pseudo-plastic wraps. These shells are discarded every day and are in abundant and recurring supply. Dr. Cait Murray-Green, the Chief Executive Officer of Cuantec (a Scottish company that specifically deals with developing Chitosan), says, “…there is enough chitosan in shellfish alone for the whole world to use Chitosan-based food packaging.”[1]

According to Associate Professor Thian Eng San from the National University of Singapore, “…increasing attention has been placed on the development of food packaging material with antimicrobial and antifungal properties, in order to improve food safety, extend shelf-life and to minimize the use of chemical preservatives.”[2]

Chitosan is biodegradable and preserves the integrity of fresh produce during the duration of its shelf-life. In fact, studies have proven that Chitosan also increases the shelf-life of produce because it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.[3] By switching to Chitosan treatments and methods, there would be less waste from the food industry.

Plastics pollute water ways and are thrown into landfills where they create environmental issues. Looking worldwide, there are almost two hundred and eighty million tons of plastic produced per year, most of which ends up in landfills or the oceans.[4] The negative impacts of plastic after its primary use outweighs its positive applications.

Abigail Newburger is a fifth-year undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. Originally from Potomac, Maryland she is hoping to move back to the Greater Washington D.C. area to work in the nonprofit sector.

Sources:

A new force in the fight against food waste. (2017, March 7). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/anewforceinthefightagainstfoodwaste/

Eco-friendly, chitosan-based food packaging material doubles shelf life of food products. (2016, February 23). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-eco-friendly-chitosan-based-food-packaging-material.html

Sakif, T.I., Dobriansky, A., Russell, K. and Islam, T. (2016) Does Chitosan Extend the Shelf Life of Fruits? Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 7, 337-342. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/abb.2016.78032

Sigler, M. (2014). The Effects of Plastic Pollution on Aquatic Wildlife: Current Situations and Future Solutions. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225(11). doi:10.1007/s11270-014-2184-6

[1] A new force in the fight against food waste. (2017, March 7). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/anewforceinthefightagainstfoodwaste/

[2] Eco-friendly, chitosan-based food packaging material doubles shelf life of food products. (2016, February 23). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-eco-friendly-chitosan-based-food-packaging-material.html

[3] Sakif, T.I., Dobriansky, A., Russell, K. and Islam, T. (2016) Does Chitosan Extend the Shelf Life of Fruits? Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 7, 337-342. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/abb.2016.78032

[4] Sigler, M. (2014). The Effects of Plastic Pollution on Aquatic Wildlife: Current Situations and Future Solutions. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225(11). doi:10.1007/s11270-014-2184-6

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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