An edible composite film was prepared from an emulsion system based on chitosan and virgin coconut oil (VCO). The effect of incorporation of VCO was evaluated at various concentrations and the optimum concentration was chosen based on resultant changes in the properties of the film. Addition of VCO in film forming solution resulted in increase in film thickness and marginal reduction in film transparency. Compatibility of VCO with chitosan was better at lower concentration of VCO as indicated by the microstructure of composite film in scanning electron micrographs. Phase separation was evident at higher level of oil incorporation and the optimal oil/chitosan ratio was determined to be at 0.5 to 1 mL/g chitosan. Furthermore, chemical interaction took place between VCO and chitosan as revealed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy data. Even though control chitosan films exhibited superior gas barrier properties, composite film with optimum VCO concentration revealed better mechanical and moisture sorption properties.
The results of this study provide a practically viable technique to improve the moisture barrier properties of chitosan films making them more suitable for food packaging applications. The results indicate that chitosan films incorporated with virgin coconut oil at selected optimum concentration can be ideally used as an edible film for packing dry as well as moist foods.