Red Cabbage Film as an Eco-Friendly Sensor for Food Safety in Stored Cucumbers

Jim Crocker
3rd July, 2024

Red Cabbage Film as an Eco-Friendly Sensor for Food Safety in Stored Cucumbers

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study, conducted in Egypt, developed a biopolymer film using red cabbage extract (RCE) and bacterial cellulose (BC) to detect contamination and gamma radiation in cucumbers
  • The RCE-BC film changes color in response to pH variations, effectively indicating bacterial contamination by correlating color change with bacterial growth
  • The film also detects gamma radiation exposure, with color intensity decreasing as radiation levels increase, making it useful for monitoring food preservation
The recent study conducted by the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority aims to develop a pH-sensing biopolymer film based on the immobilization of red cabbage extract (RCE) within bacterial cellulose (BC) to detect contamination and gamma radiation exposure in cucumbers[1]. This innovative approach addresses the need for intelligent food packaging that can monitor food safety and quality in real-time. The study builds on earlier findings that highlight the potential of red cabbage anthocyanins (RCAs) as excellent antioxidant and antimicrobial agents, as well as pH-sensitive indicators[2]. RCAs have been shown to provide a broad color spectrum over a wide range of pH values, making them suitable for smart food packaging applications. Previous research has demonstrated that incorporating RCAs into various biopolymeric films can enhance their physical, mechanical, thermal, and structural properties, while also enabling real-time monitoring of food quality[2]. In this study, the researchers immobilized RCE within BC to create a biopolymer film capable of detecting pH changes, which are indicative of bacterial contamination and gamma radiation exposure. Bacterial cellulose (BC) is a highly versatile green material known for its mechanical and thermal properties, hydrophilicity, and biocompatibility[3]. These characteristics make BC an ideal substrate for immobilizing RCE to create a functional and eco-friendly pH-sensing film. The study's findings reveal that both RCE in its aqueous form and RCE incorporated within BC films (RCE-BC) exhibit sensitivity to pH changes, with a strong correlation between color change and bacterial growth (R2 = 0.91) and pH values ranging from 2 to 12 (R2 = 0.98). This indicates that the biopolymer film can effectively monitor bacterial contamination by detecting changes in pH levels. Furthermore, the researchers exposed RCE and RCE-BC to varying levels of gamma radiation (0, 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 kGy) and observed a gradual decrease in color intensity, which was more pronounced in the aqueous samples. This suggests that the biopolymer film can also detect gamma radiation exposure, which is relevant for food preservation. To test the film's ability to sense bacterial contamination, cucumbers were stored under cold conditions, and the total bacterial count was monitored at 0, 5, 10, and 15 days. The results showed that non-irradiated samples reached a bacterial count of 9.13 log cfu/mL, while samples irradiated at 2 kGy had a lower count of 5.47 log cfu/mL. The main bacterial isolates identified during this period were Pseudomonas fluorescens, Erwinia sp., and Pantoea agglomerans. The biopolymer film detected bacterial growth in irradiated cucumbers within 5 to 10 days of storage, highlighting its effectiveness in early contamination detection. This study aligns with previous research that demonstrated the successful application of halochromic smart films incorporating RCAs to monitor the freshness of seafood like hairtail and shrimp[4]. The smart films exhibited significant color changes in response to ammonia vapor and acidic/alkaline environments, enabling real-time freshness monitoring. The current study extends this concept to cucumbers, demonstrating the versatility and potential of RCE-BC films for intelligent food packaging. In summary, the development of RCE-BC biopolymer films represents a significant advancement in intelligent food packaging. By leveraging the pH-sensitive properties of RCAs and the mechanical and hydrophilic characteristics of BC, the researchers have created an eco-friendly and effective solution for detecting food contamination and gamma radiation exposure. This innovation has the potential to enhance food safety and quality monitoring, providing a valuable tool for both consumers and the food industry.



Main Study

1) Red cabbage extract immobilized in bacterial cellulose film as an eco-friendly sensor to monitor microbial contamination and gamma irradiation of stored cucumbers

Published 2nd July, 2024

Related Studies

2) Application of Red Cabbage Anthocyanins as pH-Sensitive Pigments in Smart Food Packaging and Sensors.

3) Bacterial Cellulose and Its Applications.

4) Fabrication of halochromic smart films by immobilizing red cabbage anthocyanins into chitosan/oxidized-chitin nanocrystals composites for real-time hairtail and shrimp freshness monitoring.

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