Physical, mechanical and barrier properties of corn starch films incorporated with plant essential oils.Carbohydr Polym. 2013 Oct 15; 98(1):1117-26.CP
Corn starch-based films are inherently brittle and lack the necessary mechanical integrity for conventional packaging. However, the incorporation of additives can potentially improve the mechanical properties and processability of starch films. In this work two essential oils, Zataria multiflora Boiss (ZEO) or Mentha pulegium (MEO) at three levels (1%, 2% and 3% (v/v)), were incorporated into starch films using a solution casting method to improve the mechanical and water vapor permeability (WVP) properties and to impart antimicrobial activity. Increasing the content of ZEO or MEO from 2% to 3% (v/v) increased values for elongation at break from 94.38% to 162.45% and from 53.34% to 107.71% respectively, but did not significantly change tensile strength values of the films. The WVP properties of the films decreased from 7.79 to 3.37 or 3.19 g mm m(-2) d(-1) kPa(-1) after 3% (v/v) ZEO or MEO incorporation respectively. The oxygen barrier properties were unaffected at the 1% and 2% (v/v) oil concentration used but oxygen transmission increased with 3% (v/v) for both formulations. The films' color became slightly yellow as the levels of ZEO or MEO were increased although transparency was maintained. Both films demonstrated antimicrobial activity with films containing ZEO more effective against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus than those containing MEO. These results suggest that ZEO and MEO have the potential to be directly incorporated into corn starch to prepare antimicrobial biodegradable films for various food packaging applications.