Flexible packaging firm Parkside is nearing completion of a project to develop a packaging solution that neutralises bacteria, such as campylobacter, but doesn’t contain metal.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.
The project, which is funded in part from the public purse, is being conducted in Parkside’s R&D lab in its UK headquarters in Normanton, West Yorkshire.
About six months ago, Parkside became the first company to develop flexible packaging protected from micro-organisms using a silver-based additive, which is already used in a variety of other materials, including paper and polymer.
However, retailers have been reluctant to take this on in the packaging market as they are worried about consumer’s concerns regarding meat being in contact with metal. This silver-ion technology is said to kill 99.97% of micro-organisms such as campylobacter.
Parkside new product development (NPD) director Steve McCormick said: “After discussions with lots of retailers, Parkside set out to look at doing this in a different way, so we thought about what natural products you can try and develop that can have a similar impact upon campylobacter as silver-ion technology?”
“In collaboration with a number of companies, we have started to look at certain products that have the same activity level in killing campylobacter and these are based on herbs and extracts of natural products. There is some evidence from academic works across Europe that these materials can be used to kill campylobacter.”
McCormick believes the 15-month project will have a positive result within the next six to nine months. The government has provided a five-figure subsidy to support the project and is also monitoring its progress.
He said that while Parkside’s researchers are nearing a solution, the issue they have is that herbal extracts are only able to kill campylobacter for a brief period of time, normally a few hours, before it returns, while shelf life of meat can often exceed a number of days.
“At the moment we are trying to reformulate the activity to see if we can make it better. We’ve had reasonable success without suggesting for one minute that we’ve actually cracked the problem,” said McCormick
“I think there is a market for this. Whether that’s niche or wide scale, only time will tell.”
£35m turnover-Parkside employs 150 staff, 100 in its 6,600sqm Normanton site and 50 in its second site in Kuala Lumpur.
Formerly Parkside Flexibles, it rebranded last year, celebrating 10 years of its current ownership. It has been in operation for more than 40 years.