Document Type : Research Article


Department of Food Science and Technology, Ramin Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Khuzestan, Iran.


Introduction: The environmental effect of synthetic plastic wastes is of increasing global concern. There is an urgent need to develop and apply renewable biopolymer materials. Development of edible and biodegradable films can help solving the waste disposal problem by partially replacing synthetic plastics (Martins et al., 2012). Chitosan; a linear polysaccharide composed of (1, 4)-linked 2-amino-deoxy-b-d-glucan, is a deacetylated (to varying degrees) product of chitin, which is the second most abundant polymer found in nature after cellulose. It has been proved to be biodegradable, biofunctional, biocompatible, nontoxic and have strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties (Aider, 2010). Thus, this work was undertaken to investigate the physical, optical, barrier, mechanical, microstructural, and antimicrobial properties of chitosan films incorporated with PEO, to examine its potential applications as a packaging material.

Materials & method: The films were prepared according to the solvent casting technique reported by (Abdollahi et al., 2012) with some modifications. Tensile strenght (TS) and elongation at break (E) of the films were measured with texture analyzer according to Barzegar et al. (2014) method. Equilibrated film strips (at 53% RH for 48 h) were fixed between the grips with an initial separation of 50 mm and the cross-head speed was set at 50 mm/min. TS was calculated by dividing the maximum force by the initial area of the film and E% was calculated through dividing the extension at the moment of specimen rupture by the initial gauge length and multiplying by 100. The WVP of the films was determined at according to the Shojaee-Aliabadi et al. (2013). The test cups containing anhydrous calcium chloride (0% RH) were sealed by the test films, then were placed inside a desiccator containing sodium-chloride-saturated solution (75% RH). Weight gain of the cups along time were recorded periodically and plotted as a function of time. Antimicrobial properties of the films were assessed using the disc-diffusion method according to Dashipour et al. (2015). Four gram-positive or gram-negative bacteria, including B. cereus, S. aureus, E. coli and S. typhimurium were used for testing.

Results and discussions: The influence of PEO incorporation on thickness, TS, EAB, WVP and water solubility of films can be seen in Table 1. The incorporation of PEO into the film-forming dispersion led to an increase in the thickness of the films, which varied between 0.131 mm and 0.185 mm. It could be due to the entrapment of PEO micro droplets by the polymer matrix (Dashipour et al. 2015). By increasing PEO concentration from 0.5 to 2 % in the film solutions, WS decreased markedly from 22.46 to 16.15 (P < 0.05). This behavior can be explained by the cross-linking effects of PEO components to esters and/or amide groups. Cross-linking in the chitosan film leads to a polymer with lower water solubility, which is useful when product integrity and water resistance are intended (Hosseini et al., 2009).

Table 1. Physical and mechanical properties of chitosan films.
PEO (% v/v) Thickness (mm)
Solubility in water (%) WVP
(g s-1 m-1 Pa-1 × 10-10) TS
0.0 0.131 ± 0.01d 22.46 ± 0.73a 1.04 ± 0.05c 21.22 ± 1.97a 49.05 ± 1.63c
0.5 0.153± 0.01c 21.19 ± 1.22a 1.12 ± 0.06c 20.09 ± 1.40a 50.36 ± 2.98c
1 0.167 ± 0.01b 18.47 ± 0.53b 1.35 ± 0.09b 17.04 ± 1.26b 55.25 ± 2.95b
2 0.185 ± 0.01a 16.15 ± 0.54c 1.73 ± 0.09a 13.23 ± 1.35c 59.37 ± 2.49a

The incorporation of PEO into chitosan-based films leads to an increase in WVP values from 1.04 to 1.73 g s-1 m-1 Pa-1 × 10-10. A similar trend has been found by Bonilla et al., (2011) in chitosan-based films incorporated with thyme essential oil. The structural discontinuities induced in the polymer network by the addition of PEO could be the reason for the lowest resistance to breakage of the emulsified films. These discontinuities greatly reduced the film cohesion and mechanical resistance (Bonilla et al., 2012). Conversely, the EAB value of the films increased significantly (P < 0.05) from 49.05% to 59.37%, because the essential oil acted as a plasticizer even at small concentrations and enhanced the flexibility of the polymer chains.
The effects of PEO on the antimicrobial properties of the chitosan films are shown in Table 2. The films containing 1% PEO showed a certain inhibitory effect against B. cereus and S. aureus but no inhibition against S. typhimurium and E. coli. As the concentration of PEO increased, the zone of inhibition also increased significantly (P < 0.05). The films containing 2% PEO were effective against all studied bacteria and a greater inhibitory power was observed on S. aureus with the zone area of 49.67 mm2. The inhibitory effect of PEO is due to the two monoterpene hydrocarbons, α-pinene, and β-pinene (Barrero et al., 2005).

Table2. Antimicrobial activity of chitosan films.
PEO (% v/v) Inhibition zone (mm2)
S. aureus B. cereus E. coli S. typhimurium
0.0 0.00c 0.00c 0.00b 0.00b
0.5 0.00c 0.00c 0.00b 0.00b
1 22.58 ± 1.76b 15.63 ± 0.63b 0.00b 0.00b
2 49.67 ± 3.02a 41.96 ± 1.40a 21.12 ± 1.87a 12.49 ± 1.57a

Conclusion: The results obtained in this study showed that the chitosan films incorporated with PEO has a good potential to being empolyed as an active film to preserve food products. Addition of PEO decreased water solubility and tensile strength, while increased the thickness, WVP and percent elongation of the films. Overall, this study demonstrates that PEO-containing films present a good potential for their application in the food industry.