Polypropylene-based packaging materials for shelf-life
enhancement of yellow corn (Zea mays) kernels: Effects on
lutein, aflatoxin content, sensory, and nutritional profiles
Department of Food Technology and
Biochemical Engineering, Jadavpur
University, Kolkata 700 032, India
Paramita Bhattacharjee, Department of
Food Technology and Biochemical
Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
700 032, India.
University Grant Commission (UGC) New
Delhi, India, Grant/Award Number: 1440/
Yellow corn (Zea mays) kernels were packaged in unilamellar polypropylene (PP), bilamellar PP/PET
(polyethylene terephthalate), and trilamellar PP/PET/Al (aluminium foil) composite and stored at
ambient conditions (23 6 2 8C, 80% RH) for the extension of their shelf-lives. Lutein content, afla-
toxin content, sensory, physicochemical, phytochemical, and nutritional properties were adjudged.
X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetric-differential thermal analyses, differential scanning calorimetry,
and percentage opacity of the three packaging composites revealed that among the three combina-
tions investigated, PP/PET/Al composite possessed highest crystallinity, thermal stability, and
percentage opacity, thereby exhibiting improved barrier properties against moisture, gas, and light.
These attributes led to enhanced carotenogenesis and minimal aflatoxin content, conferring highest
shelf-life of 90 days to the trilamellate packaged corn kernels, compared to PP- and PP/PET-
packaged samples (60 days). Sensory, physicochemical, phytochemical, and nutritional profiles were
also best retained in the same compared to PP- and PP/PET-packaged and control corn grits.
Corn is one of the major cereal crops consumed worldwide. Besides its nutritive value, it is also a
good source of the nutraceutical “lutein.” Therefore, to meet the demand of the food processing
industries and consumers, the grains must be preserved well. The current approach of application
of non-thermal preservation technology viz. “packaging” (using commercially viable, flexible
packaging materials) could well preserve lutein as well as sensory attributes, phytochemical prop-
erties and nutritional constituents of the corn grits, when stored at ambient conditions (23 6 2 8C,
Corn (Zea mays) is one of the most important cereal crops of the world
and contributes to food security in most of the developing countries
(FAO, 2017a). In India, corn is considered to be the third most impor-
tant crop after rice and wheat (Anonymous, 2017a). Besides its enor-
mous usage in food industries such as in form of corn starch and corn
oil, to name a few (Anonymous, 2017b), yellow corn is a valuable
source of the important biopharmaceutical molecule “lutein,” which
constitutes 60% of its total carotenoids (Rodrigues & Shao 2004;
Sommerburg, Keunen, Bird, & van Kuijk, 1998).
As is characteristic of carotenoids, lutein is also highly unstable and
prone to degradation, when exposed to high temperature, light, and
oxygen (Cardoso, Bor
em, Karam, Rios, & Paes, 2015) and thereby lutein
content of yellow corn kernels could be compromised if improperly
stored and handled. Other than degradation of lutein, a major hazard-
ous consequence of improper storage of yellow corn kernels is mold
infestation leading to increased production of aflatoxin in the same,
which is a potential threat to wellbeing of human and animals at large,
if not maintained within the permissible limit (10 mg/kg) of USFDA and
EU (Chauhan, Washe, & Minota, 2016; FAO, 2017b).
Conventional preservation techniques for yellow corn include sun
drying and use of chemical preservatives, namely ammonia and ammo-
nium isobutyrate (Bothast, Adams, Hatfield, & Lancaster, 1975;
Cardoso et al., 2015). However, sun drying often results in great loss of
lutein and chemical residues render corn unsafe for consumption.
To forego these limitations of traditional preservation techniques, the
current study endeavors to design “composite packaging” as an
J Food Process Preserv. 2018;e13618.
2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 31 August 2017
Revised: 3 January 2018
Accepted: 21 February 2018