Bio-Based pH Indicator Films for Intelligent Food Packaging Applications
The widespread concerns about the environmental problems caused by conventional plastic food packaging and food waste led to a growing effort to develop active and intelligent systems produced from renewable biodegradable polymers for food packaging applications. Among intelligent systems, the most widely used are pH indicators, which are generally based on a pH-sensitive dye incorporated into a solid support. The objective of this study was to develop new intelligent systems based on renewable biodegradable polymers and a new bio-inspired pH-sensitive dye. The structure of the dye was elucidated through FT-IR and 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic analyses. UV-VIS measurements of the dye solutions at various pH values proved their halochromic properties. Their toxicity was evaluated through theoretical calculations, and no toxicity risks were found. The new anthocyanidin was used for the development of biodegradable intelligent systems based on chitosan blends. The obtained polymeric films were characterized through UV-VIS and FT-IR spectroscopy. Their thermal properties were assessed through a thermogravimetric analysis, which showed a better stability of chitosan&ndash;PVA&ndash;dye and chitosan&ndash;starch&ndash;dye films compared to those of chitosan&ndash;cellulose&ndash;dye films and the dye itself. The films&rsquo; sensitivity to pH variations was evaluated through immersion in buffer solutions with pH values ranging from 2 to 12, and visible color changes were observed.