PLA and Active Packaging
Active packaging of food is being considered an emerging technology in food conservation since it can improve quality and stability of a product and extend its shelf-life. Present active packaging systems make use of active materials, which are those designed to intentionally incorporate components that release substances into the packaged food or its environment, or absorb substances from the food or its environment, with the aim of prolonging shelf-life or improving the condition of packaged food. Although any packaging material can be made active, polymeric materials are preferred since they take advantage of the mass transfer processes that occur in their bulk. Although polyolefins have been the preferred materials, PLA has been used as an alternative biopolymer for the production of active packaging materials. After a brief introduction about active packaging, the most relevant PLA-based active materials are reviewed and commented on in this chapter, with special emphasis on those that are intended for the control of microbial growth or oxidation problems, that is antimicrobial and antioxidant packaging systems.