A new twist on packaging combined with a special ingredient could extend the shelf life of fresh pasta by a month, researchers have revealed.
Heat-treated industrial fresh pasta has a shelf life of approximately 30 to 90 days, if stored properly. However, by taking a three-pronged approach, involving new packaging shapes, a different packaging atmosphere and the addition of ‘good’ bacteria, the researchers were able to extend this to 120 days.
Write in the journal Frontiers in microbiologythe team says the development could help fight food wastebringing potential benefits “on the economy and on the environment, stimulating innovation in existing production models”.
Scientists in Italy report that they worked with a pasta factory in Altamura to create 144 samples of short, thin twisted pasta known as trophy. A set of 48 samples was packaged using conventional film and a packaging atmosphere of 20% carbon dioxide to 80% nitrogen.
A second series of 48 samples was conditioned with a film less permeable to water and oxygen and with an atmosphere of 40% carbon dioxide for 60% nitrogen, while the third series of 48 samples used also these new conditions but, in addition, had a multi-strain probiotic blend added to the pasta dough. The samples were all stored at 4C.
The team reports that conventionally packaged pasta showed a decrease in carbon dioxide levels over a 90-day storage period, leading to visible mold growth. In contrast, both types of experimental samples had an almost stable atmosphere, and no fungal growth, over a period of 120 days.
The team adds that, at 90 days, levels of oxygen-consuming microbes had increased in the conventionally wrapped pasta samples, but remained stable in both types of experimental samples for 120 days. However, these levels were lower in samples with probiotics added to the dough.
The team says the results suggest the new approach to packaging extends the shelf life of fresh refrigerated pasta to 120 days, adding that pasta stability during storage is improved by the addition of probiotics, as they reduce the growth of unwanted microbes.
While Italian laws dictate various aspects of pasta made in the country, Dr Francesca De Leo of the Italian National Research Council and co-author of the research, said the new approach is fully in line with the legislation. “It has already been tested with the pasta company that collaborated in this study. Indeed, the study was designed based on the analysis of the company’s needs”, she specifies.
De Leo added that although the costs of the innovation were taken into account and the company involved in the study approved and used the process for its own plant, no feasibility analysis had been carried out. and long term.
“You certainly have to consider that the costs, mainly related to probiotics, are balanced by the improvement in production with the possibility of expanding sales markets,” she said.