An Oban company has come up with an ingenious idea for wrapping food, by using a waste product of the west coast’s shell fish industry.
CuanTec, based at the Scottish Assocation of Marine Science (SAMS) in Dunstaffnage near Oban, has developed a processes to create cling film from langoustine shells and other marine and aquaculture waste.
Using langoustines from the clear waters of the North Atlantic, a source of a chemical, called chitin, is extracted. CuanTecs method is to do this through biological fermentation, rather than using traditional chemical means.
The chitin is then transformed into a more soluble product – chitosan – which can then be used in making products such as anti-bacterial food wrap.
A spokesman for the company said: “CuanTec is the first company in the world to achieve biological extraction of chitin from shell at an industrial scale, and this gentle process provides high quality chitin and chitosan which exhibits high efficacy against a wide range of food spoilage bacteria responsible in food waste.
“Using our chitosan increases the shelf life of packaged food.
“Our process is a zero-waste process, only useful by-products are obtained, it uses only harmless bacteria and no harsh chemicals.
“The first product developed with our chitosan is an anti-microbial, compostable food contact material (FCM) packaging which reduces spoilage and prolongs shelf-life of fresh food.
“Initially this will be aimed at the seafood sector as a perfect example of circular economy
“CuanTec’s technology and processes creates exceedingly high quality odourless chitosan through a very gentle process. This provides a perfectly clear film, without yellow tinge that previously has discouraged the use of chitosan in FCM products.
“CuanTec’s films have anti-microbial action against all of the main pathogens and food spoilage organisms including E.coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Listeria and lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and moulds.”