Researchers from Hasanuddin University may have found a new use for the seaweed Sargassum. Alginate, a natural sugar found in some seaweeds, can be used as an ingredient to make edible packaging or better known as an edible film or edible coating. Edible coatings have been used to protect food products while maintaining the original appearance of the product.
The researchers focused on extracting sodium-alginate from Sargassum to use as an edible coating to preserve fruit, in this case, mango. The study used increasing concentrations of Na-alginate (0-50 ppm) solutions to bathe the mango in. They found that at 20 ppm the shelf-life at room temperature was tripled to 15 days compared to the control 0 ppm solution, which only lasted 5 days (see table below).
This could be a powerful use for the tons of Sargassum washing up in various parts of the world, and aid in future food security by eliminating produce waste.
The study was published in Indonesia Chimica Acta and can be read here