Food scientists at University College Cork have developed a biodegradable chewing gum which they say could save local authorities millions of euro in clean-up costs.

The chewing gum is made from wheat and has been patented with the university currently trying to sell the idea to a commercial gum producer.

A study by the anti-litter group IBAL estimated that it would cost €70m per year to keep the main streets of the country's towns and cities free of chewing gum litter.

A biodegradable chewing gum would significantly reduce this cost as it would break down and disappear within days of being discarded.

However it is likely to be some time before this idea goes from the lab to the shelves.

While UCC scientists here have brought this project this far they are now hoping one of the world’s major chewing gum companies will step in to flavour, package and sell it in shops.

Besides biodegradable gum researchers at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at UCC have developed everything from gluten-free beer to bread that stays fresh for up to a fortnight.