Innovative Antimicrobial Chitosan/ZnO/Ag NPs/Citronella Essential Oil Nanocomposite—Potential Coating for Grapes
New packaging materials based on biopolymers are gaining increasing attention due to many advantages like biodegradability or existence of renewable sources. Grouping more antimicrobials agents in the same packaging can create a synergic effect, resulting in either a better antimicrobial activity against a wider spectrum of spoilage agents or a lower required quantity of antimicrobials. In the present work, we obtained a biodegradable antimicrobial film that can be used as packaging material for food. Films based on chitosan as biodegradable polymer, with ZnO and Ag nanoparticles as filler/antimicrobial agents were fabricated by a casting method. The nanoparticles were loaded with citronella essential oil (CEO) in order to enhance the antimicrobial activity of the nanocomposite films. The tests made on Gram-positive, Gram-negative, and fungal strains indicated a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, with inhibition diameters of over 30 mm for bacterial strains and over 20 mm for fungal strains. The synergic effect was evidenced by comparing the antimicrobial results with chitosan/ZnO/CEO or chitosan/Ag/CEO simple films. According to the literature and our preliminary studies, these formulations are suitable as coating for fruits. The obtained nanocomposite films presented lower water vapor permeability values when compared with the chitosan control film. The samples were characterized by SEM, fluorescence and UV-Vis spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy and microscopy, and thermal analysis.