According to new research, adding an ingredient to pasta and modifying its packaging could extend its shelf life by a month! Italian researchers published their new recipe for long-lasting fresh pasta in Frontiers in Microbiology.
Heat-treated industrial fresh pasta has a shelf life of approximately 30-90 days. To combat this issue, scientists in Italy worked with a pasta factory in Altamura and made 144 samples of trofie. Trofie is a short, thin, twisted pasta from Liguria, Italy. Researchers divided the 144 samples into three groups of 48. They packaged 48 samples with conventional film and a packaging atmosphere consisting of 20% carbon dioxide and 80% nitrogen.
They packaged another 48 samples with an atmosphere of 40% carbon dioxide and 60% nitrogen. This sample also was packaged in a film less permeable to oxygen and water. The third set of 48 samples had nearly identical conditions. However, the difference was the dough contained a multi-train probiotic mixture. All three sample sets were stored at 4C (39.2F).
Results revealed that the conventionally packaged pasta had a decrease in carbon dioxide levels over a 90-day storage period and had developed mold. The other two samples had no mold growth over a 120-day period. Moreover, at 90-days, oxygen-consuming microbe levels developed in the conventionally packaged sample but remained stable in both experimental samples.
These findings suggest that the new packaging approach extends the shelf life of refrigerated pasta by 120 days, and adding probiotics to the dough helps increase the stability of the pasta.
Dr. Francesca De Leo, a Researcher for the Institute of Biomembrane, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnologies at the CNR stated, “The results demonstrate that the MAP, together with a spray-dried probiotic bioprotective cultures, acted in a synergistic way to control the microbial spoilage of fresh pasta during refrigerated storage.”
“From the consumer’s standpoint, a definite advantage of this product is the long shelf life and ease of storage,” said Dr. Leo. “This can be particularly important considering that consumers tend more and more to reduce the frequency of their food purchases, and consequently store as much as possible at home.”
Dr. Leo also explained that the results of this study could aid in “food waste prevention” if companies are willing to accept the challenge and innovate.
Marzano, M., Calasso, M., Caponio, G. R., Celano, G., Fosso, B., De Palma, D., Vacca, M., Notario, E., Pesole, G., De Leo, F., & De Angelis, M. (2022). Extension of the shelf-life of fresh pasta using modified atmosphere packaging and bioprotective cultures. Frontiers in Microbiology, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2022.1003437