An edible, invisible coating of cannabidiol (CBD) could help preserve food for longer, according to research published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
CBD, a common compound found in cannabis, is well known for its therapeutic potential and ability to reduce anxiety, pain and other conditions. Recent studies have also shown it also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, limiting the growth of some bacteria and pathogenic fungi that cause fresh fruits and vegetables to rot. Based on this, scientists at Thammasat University and Chulabhorn Research Institute in Thailand wished to investigate whether CBD could be used as a natural solution to help preserve fresh fruit for longer.
In the research, the team combined CBD isolate with biodegradable polymers which are used in drug delivery to make nanoparticles measuring 400 nanometers wide. These were then mixed with water and the food additive sodium alginate. The researchers dipped strawberries into the resulting solution, followed by a second bath in ascorbic acid and calcium chloride, which turned the coating into a gel.
To test the coating’s preservation abilities, the team placed treated and untreated strawberries into open plastic containers and kept them at fridge temperatures for several weeks. The CBD-treated strawberries decayed far less over 15 days than those left uncoated, keeping their colour and retaining their weight for longer. Higher amounts of CBD also seemed to perform better than lower amounts in the test.
Previous research in this field has also produced positive results. A 2021 study published in Postharvest Biology and Technology examined the potential of CBD oil as a treatment to be used by consumers at home to reduce microbial growth and extend the shelf life of strawberries. The study found that CBD oil applied directly to the fruit after harvesting was effective at maintaining the visual appearance of strawberries, above the minimum threshold of a visual rating score of 3, compared to the fruit that was not treated. It also found that CBD oil was effective at reducing the microbial load on treated strawberries compared to fruit that was not treated.