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Trends in Food Science & Technology
Vol.103, 2020, Pages 248-263

Edible polymers: An insight into its application in food, biomedicine and cosmetics

JMonireh Kouhi, Molamma P.Prabhakaran, Seeram Ramakrishna

Center for Nanofibers and Nanotechnology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore



With an ever increasing demand for green materials to produce new, environmentally safe and high-quality products, edible polymers from natural polymeric materials have been attracting considerable attention in recent years. Edible polymers are mainly composed of polysaccharides, proteins and lipids, are nature based materials, which can be easily consumed by animals and human without any harmful effect on health. With the attractive features of the edible polymers such as biodegradability and bio/environmental compatibility over non-biodegradable synthetic polymers, these polymers have found wide-spread applications in food, agricultural industries, and biomedical fields.

Scope and approach

The current review mainly focus on the diversification of different sources of raw and edible polymeric materials, various forms or shapes (such as particles and films applied in green and smart textiles) along with the methods of fabrication, and applications as biofilms/coating technologies (for foods preservation), active/smart food packaging, functional food coating, smart drug delivery, wound dressing, tissue engineering, medical devices, personal care products, water/wastewater treatment and energies. Improving the mechanical properties, permeability and functionality are the main motivation for developing composites from polysaccharides, proteins and lipids, and these are discussed under the diverse application profile of novel edible composites. Safety and commercial aspects of edible products are also discussed within this review.

Key findings and conclusions

Exploring new sources of edible polymers, incorporation of active components, with combination of different edible materials and simultaneous utilization of nanotechnology/nanodevices are fundamental towards the design of environmental friendly materials in food, biomedical, and energy. Due to the greater need to conserve the nature and human existence/needs, such materials are highly used to extend the shelf life of food, achieving maximum therapeutics outcome through the development of innovative edible electronics, sensors, delivery systems, and green cosmetics.

Keywords: Edible polymers, Food industries, Proteins, Lipids, Biomedical

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