Antimicrobial-coated films as food packaging: A review

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58 Scopus citations


Antimicrobial food packaging involves packaging the foods with antimicrobials to protect them from harmful microorganisms. In general, antimicrobials can be integrated with packaging materials via direct incorporation of antimicrobial agents into polymers or application of antimicrobial coating onto polymer surfaces. The former option is generally achieved through thermal film-making technology such as compression molding or film extrusion, which is primarily suitable for heat-stable antimicrobials. As a nonthermal technology, surface coating is more promising compared to molding or extrusion for manufacturing food packaging containing heat-sensitive antimicrobials. In addition, it also has advantages over direct incorporation to preserve the packaging materials’ bulk properties (e.g., mechanical and physical properties) and minimize the amount of antimicrobials to reach sufficient efficacy. Herein, antimicrobial food packaging films achieved through surface coating is explored and discussed. The two components (i.e., film substrate and antimicrobials) consisting of the antimicrobial-coated films are reviewed as plastic/biopolymer films; and synthetic/naturally occurring antimicrobials. Furthermore, special emphasis is given to different coating technologies to deposit antimicrobials onto film substrate. Laboratory coating techniques (e.g., knife coating, bar coating, and spray coating) commonly applied in academic research are introduced briefly, and scalable coating methods (i.e., electrospinning/spraying, gravure roll coating, flexography coating) that have the potential to bring laboratory-developed antimicrobial-coated films to an industrial level are explained in detail. The migration profile, advantages/drawbacks of antimicrobial-coated films for food applications, and quantitative analyses of the reviewed antimicrobial-coated films from different aspects are also covered in this review. A conclusion is made with a discussion of the challenges that remain in bringing the production of antimicrobial-coated films to an industrial level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3404-3437
Number of pages34
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science


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