Comprehensive Review of Polysaccharide-Based Materials in Edible Packaging: A Sustainable Approach
Edible packaging is a sustainable product and technology that uses one kind of “food” (an edible material) to package another kind of food (a packaged product), and organically integrates food with packaging through ingenious material design. Polysaccharides are a reliable source of edible packaging materials with excellent renewable, biodegradable, and biocompatible properties, as well as antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. Using polysaccharide-based materials effectively reduces the dependence on petroleum resources, decreases the carbon footprint of the “product-packaging” system, and provides a “zero-emission” scheme. To date, they have been commercialized and developed rapidly in the food (e.g., fruits and vegetables, meat, nuts, confectioneries, and delicatessens, etc.) packaging industry. However, compared with petroleum-based polymers and plastics, polysaccharides still have limitations in film-forming, mechanical, barrier, and protective properties. Therefore, they need to be improved by reasonable material modifications (chemical or physical modification). This article comprehensively reviews recent research advances, hot issues, and trends of polysaccharide-based materials in edible packaging. Emphasis is given to fundamental compositions and properties, functional modifications, food-packaging applications, and safety risk assessment of polysaccharides (including cellulose, hemicellulose, starch, chitosan, and polysaccharide gums). Therefore, to provide a reference for the development of modern edible packaging.