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Project TitleMaterials for Controlling/Managing Microbial Deterioration and Contamination of Foods
Track CodeP29442
Short Description

Microbial action spoils some 30 percent of food: from farm to table, a worldwide product loss of US$11.2 trillion (2011).[1] In the United States alone, the additional human toll is 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths: costing an additional US$15.6 billion in medical care and lost income (2012). This excludes food industry costs: for example, lost consumer brand confidence, recall expenses and the cost of government response to outbreaks.[2]

While chemical antimicrobials have long prevented spoilage, ‘super bugs’ have evolved to defeat them. And the growing preference for fresh, minimally processed food makes treatment with chemical preservatives or radiation less attractive. Other antimicrobial treatments such as high heat and pressure adversely affect food flavour, texture and nutritional value. Toward minimizing these unwanted effects, AAFC scientists have developed powerful, natural antimicrobials from oils produced by plants of the Cruciferaceae family (e.g., mustard).

[1] Global Overview of the Protein Ingredients Market, Frost & Sullivan, presented at Global Food Forums

2013 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar (April 2013).

[2] USDA: U.S. Foodborne Illnesses Cost More Than $15.6 Billion Annually, Food Safety News (Oct. 9, 2014).

AAFC’s innovation is an antimicrobial production and delivery system that can be incorporated in food packaging. It controls the release rate and resulting concentration of isothiocyanate, a natural product, to maximize antimicrobial activity at low level, minimizing adverse effects on food flavour.


The delivery system is a plastic sachet containing an agriculture based product and a capsule.  When the capsule is broken, naturally occurring glucosinolates and myrosinase enzyme in the meal interact to produce isothiocyanates.

The side of the sachet facing the food packaging is highly permeable, allowing isothiocyanate to contact the food, suppressing pathogenic microbes. The sachet’s opposite side is essentially impermeable.

Control of isothiocyanate release is achieved through applying the results of extensive test data on the effects of meal particle size, temperature, pH, and water-to-meal ratio. For example, environmental humidity alone is insufficient to produce significant amounts of isothiocyanate.

Unlike traditional chemical antimicrobials that are incorporated into food during processing, AAFC’s natural antimicrobials are only produced later in food’s journey to the consumer; and confined to the immediate environment in which the food is packaged.

The Offering

AAFC seeks to work with a packaging supplier to further develop cost effective applications for manufacturing plastic containers or bulk wrap for other food products that could benefit from this concept. Such products include dairy items (e.g., cheese, yogurt) and fresh fruits and vegetables. AAFC would license the technology and could undertake supporting research as part of the effort to develop such applications.

Contact: Horst Donner, Commercialization Officer

Tagsmold, food, packaging, bread mold, bread
Posted DateApr 7, 2016 11:14 AM