Compostable Polylactide and Cellulose Based Packaging for Fresh-Cut Cherry Tomatoes: Performance Evaluation and Influence of Sterilization Treatment
For food packaging, plastic materials display large appeal, mostly due to their versatility, mechanical, optical and barrier properties. However, they play an important role in environmental concerns and waste management issue. Compostable bioplastics represent alternative materials designed for a lower environmental impact. In this work, a biobased compostable packaging, constituted by polylactide (PLA) trays and NatureFlex&trade; film, was evaluated for fresh-cut cherry tomato. A comparative analysis was accomplished using traditional packaging materials, that is, polyethylene terephtalate (PET) trays and polypropylene (PP Coex) film. Structural stability under food contact conditions, mechanical and physical-chemical properties were investigated. Tensile mechanical properties, puncture resistance, contact angle (CA) and attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), before and after UV or radiofrequency (RF) sterilization treatment, were evaluated. UV irradiation method resulted the less invasive one. Therefore, oxygen and water vapor transmission rate (OTR and WVTR), overall chemical migration test, biodegradation assessment by biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) according to ISO 14851 and disintegration test by ISO 20200 were carried out to establish the further influence of UV sterilization on the packaging. Overall, data showed that the biobased compostable packaging for a prolonged shelf-life of fresh-cut cherry tomato has better properties that were surprisingly enhanced by the UV treatment.