Gregory Ziegler, Professor of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, USA, has received a grant of approximately US$470,000 from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to conduct a three-year study of alternative coatings for metal food cans.
“Billions of cans of safe food with extended shelf life reach consumers each year, contributing to food security,” Ziegler said. “The design and deployment of alternative coatings that can withstand the mechanical and thermal stresses imposed by can manufacturing and thermal processing is a major challenge,” he said. “BPA-containing epoxy does an exceptional job preventing corrosion of both steel and aluminium regardless of the food, beverage or processing method. Alternative coatings must not negatively affect public health and safety.”
The overall goal of Ziegler’s research is to reduce the potential for corrosion in canned foods employing BPA non-intent coatings, thereby extending product shelf life and improving food safety and security.
Because the novel coatings vary in their physical properties, the study calls for applying them on electro-tinplated steel and tin-free steel container materials. Ziegler will then use advanced materials-characterisation techniques to evaluate the coatings' resistance to aggressive food constituents, before and after thermal processing.
Three main objectives of the research:
- Determine the corrosivity of food components/novel ingredients not previously identified as aggressive;
- Determine the mode and rate of migration of aggressive compounds through the BPA non-intent coatings as a function of polymer properties;
- Establish the effect of the migration of aggressive compounds on the adhesion of the novel coatings to metal substrate and subsequent corrosion of the metal.
“The outcome of the study will be a fundamental understanding of the properties of polymeric coatings that protect the metal substrate and therefore the consumer,” he said.
Also involved in the research are Helene Hopfer, Rasmussen Career Development Professor in Food Science and Elzbieta Sikora, Associate Teaching Professor in Engineering Science and Mechanics.