A research team at Southern Illinois University is looking at applications of the spice turmeric to make food-safe, antibacterial surfaces for food processing, preparation and packaging.
Ruplal Choudhary, a food and bioprocess engineer and associate professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, wants to use the curcumin compound in active food packaging .
Working with a team under Victor Rodov from the Agricultural Research Organization at The Volcani Center in Israel they found curcumin was an antimicrobial compound, especially against E. coli.
The work, with a $100,000 feasibility grant from the Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), included resveratrol found in grapes and hydroxytyrosal in olives.
With the aid of $300,000 in support from BARD, the team built nanovesicles for the curcumin compound that adhere to and enclose the compound and bind it to glass and other surfaces.
These nano-coated surfaces, when used in food processing, preparation and storage, naturally kill microbes and prevent spoilage and the nanotreated surface does not flavor the food that comes in contact with it.
The team hopes to patent the nanocoating process and broaden its applications for food safety.