RUDN University chemists have developed a simple and convenient method for producing derivatives of the natural polymer chitosan. These derivatives are non-toxic and have a pronounced antibacterial activity at the level of modern antibiotics. These substances can be used in the production of antibacterial protective films for food. The article is published in the journal Food Chemistry.
Preservatives are widely used in the food industry. They are necessary to extend the shelf life of products. On the other hand, preservatives reduce food quality. Some of them can cause allergies (benzoic acid) or be toxic (nitrates, nitrites). Synthetic waxy substances used to coat fruits can be carcinogenic (biphenyl is prohibited in the US and EU). This explains the importance of finding new preservatives that are effective and safe.
Chitosan is a natural polymer derived from chitin, the main component of insect and crustacean shells. It has antibacterial properties and is already used in the food industry for packaging and coating products with a protective film. However, its activity is far inferior to antibiotics.