Fabrication and Characterization of Hydrogen Peroxide and Thymol-Loaded PVA/PVP Hydrogel Coatings as a Novel Anti-Mold Surface for Hay Protection
Animal food source production is increasing due to the growing world population. Many sources (e.g., hay) are prone to mold development, resulting in food degradation. This study proposes an environmentally friendly anti-mold fungicide comprising hydrogen peroxide (HP) and thymol entrapped in a polyvinyl alcohol/pyrrolidone (PVA/PVP) hydrogel (PVA is biodegradable and PVP is water soluble and non-toxic) coated on a polyethylene (PE) films for preservative hay packaging. The hydrogels improved the thermal stability of the entrapped HP and thymol, resulting in a prolonged release into the hay and thereby increasing anti-mold activity. The hydrogel composition and morphology, thymol and HP thermal stability, and release rates through indirect (gas phase) contact were investigated. Fungicidal capabilities were tested, indicating wide-range efficiency against mold growth on hay with a clear advantage for the thymol-loaded hydrogels. No visual side effects were observed on hay exposed to the released fumes of HP and/or thymol. These results demonstrate the potential of thymol-loaded hydrogels as effective and safe post-harvest preservatives.