TEHRAN, Iran - Researchers at the University of Tehran used starch nanocatalysts to produce a coating for the protection and enrichment of food products in factories. Made of cheap starch, the coating is resistant to acidic media and can be used in the foodstuff and medical industries.

Starch is a cheap and biodegradable polymer that has attracted the attention of many researchers in the past few years for the prevention of foodstuff corruption. This study tried to present an appropriate coating for maintaining the effects of food products by using starch nanocrystals. The coating does not have any undesired side effects on the environment or the consumer, and it can be used in hygienic products, with applications in the production of target delivery drugs.

The nanocrystals are prepared through the acidic hydrolysis of starch granules at room temperature. As such, they are resistant to acidic media. Toughness and low permeability are among other characteristics of the nanocrystals.

In the research, date palm pit extract was used as a source of polyphenol and antioxidant; it was placed inside the nanocrystalline starch coating. Food products containing phenol play an important role in many metabolic processes in the body and in the prevention of disease. Based on the results, the produced nanocrystals were 48 nm in size. The sizes of nanoparticles (before being placed inside the date palm pit extract) and nanocapsules (nanoparticles containing date palm pit extract) were reported to be 164 and 198 nm, respectively.

Results of the research were published in International Journal of Food Science and Technology, volume 49, issue 3, March 2014, pp. 920-923.