Incorporating phenolic compounds opens a new perspective to use zein films as flexible bioactive packaging materials
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To eliminate their classical brittleness and flexibility problems zein films were plasticized by incorporation of different phenolic acids (gallic acid (GA), p-hydroxy benzoic acid (HBA) or ferulic acids (FA)) or flavonoids (catechin (CAT), flavone (FLA) or quercetin (QU)). The use of GA, CAT, FA and HBA at 3mg/cm2 eliminated the brittleness of films and gave highly flexible films showing elongations between 135% and 189%, while FLA and QU caused no considerable effect on film elongation. The films containing FA and HBA showed extreme swelling and lost their structural integrity when hydrated in distilled water. In contrast, CAT and GA containing films maintained their integrity following hydration. Most of the GA (up to 93%) and a considerable portion of CAT (up to 60%) in the films existed in soluble form. Therefore, the films showed antioxidant and/or antimicrobial activity. The TEACs of soluble phenolic compounds in 3mg/cm2 CAT and GA containing films were 21.0 and 86.2μmoltrolox/cm2, respectively. The GA containing films showed antimicrobial activity on Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni, while CAT showed no antimicrobial activity on these bacteria at the studied concentration. This work opens a new perspective for using zein in flexible bioactive packaging.