Incorporating antimicrobial substances into pullulan edible films could offer an innovative solution for controlling foodborne pathogens, according to an article published in the Journal of Food Science (Morsy and others 2014).  The study examined the antimicrobial effectiveness of pullulan films on the surfaces of fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry.  Rosemary and oregano essential oils, as well as silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles, were incorporated into pullulan films and tested against four foodborne pathogens: Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium.  The results showed that pullulan could be a promising delivery system for antimicrobials with advantages compared to other delivery systems, such as enabling lower antimicrobial dosage and gradual antimicrobial release over time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that roughly one in six Americans become sick each year due to foodborne pathogens (over 48 million illnesses), leading to 12,800 hospitalizations, and 3000 deaths (CDC 2011).  The top five pathogens responsible for over 85% of the estimated 3000 food-related deaths each year are:  Salmonella (28%), Toxoplasma (24%), Listeria monocytogenes (19%), Norovirus (11%), and Campylobacter (6%).

Pullulan is a natural polysaccharide with excellent film-forming and binding properties.  Pullulan films have low permeability to oxygen, which protects active ingredients, flavors, and colors incorporated into the film from deterioration. Nagase is the innovator of pullulan manufacturing and is the leading global supplier.  To request a sample or inquire about more information, click here.

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CDC Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, January 8).  Retrieved from

Morsy, M. K., Khalaf, H. H., Sharoba, A. M., El-Tanahi, H. H., & Cutter, C. N. (2014 March). Incorporation of Essential Oils and Nanoparticles in Pullulan Films to Control Foodborne Pathogens on Meat and Poultry Products.  Journal of Food Science, 79 (4), 675-684.