Imagine this – an ice cube that is reusable, flexible, and biodegradable. Look no further, that’s exactly what University of California, Davis researchers are developing.
With funding provided by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), UC Davis researchers are creating what they call “jelly ice.” Jelly ice is made using soy protein that is often discarded as byproducts. It traps water in its membrane and once frozen, jelly ice will stay as cold as regular ice and can be used nearly a dozen times – making this a sustainable, climate-smart alternative.
Unlike traditional ice, jelly ice can be reused without cross contamination and can keep foods at safe temperatures longer – helping to reduce food waste and foodborne illness. With over 63 million tons of food waste generated in the commercial, institutional, and residential sectors in 2018 alone (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), jelly ice has the potential to be game changing for cold food storage and shipment.
Jelly ice is a prime example of how USDA is working to build better markets, address climate change, and improve food security.