Food is a perishable product and therefore contamination and product degradation can occur at any stage of the food chain, it can be chemical, physical and biological.
The presence of infectious organisms in food can cause food poisoning, which can be fatal, especially for children, pregnant women and the elderly. It is therefore extremely important that food is protected at all levels by using quality packaging material that is safe, cost-effective and non-toxic.
Active packaging is designed to stop microbial growth after the customer opens the package and reseals it with the active part of the package. In the food industry, nanotechnology can be used to detect the presence of bacteria on packaging or to increase barrier properties.
Several nanomaterials are available on the market, including titanium nitride, silver and nano-zinc oxide nanoparticles, nano-clay and nano-titanium dioxide, which are presented as functional additives for the food packaging industry.
Nanotechnology in the food industry
The use of nanomaterials is useful for direct interaction with food to ensure better product protection. Nanosilver, nanotitanium dioxide, nanocopper oxide, carbon nanotubes and nanomagnesium oxide can provide antimicrobial properties.
It is designed to detect microbial or biochemical changes in food. It can detect the development of pathogens in food. Part of the smart packaging could be used as a food safety monitoring device.
Currently, British Airways, the supermarket MonoPrix and Nestlé use chemical sensors that can quickly detect a change in the color of a product.
Nanosensor packaging is useful for identifying internal and external conditions of food and containers throughout the supply chain. In addition, in plastic packaging, nanosensors can detect gases in products when they spoil and, as a result, the packaging changes color to warn the consumer.
Films that are packed with silicate nanoparticles can reduce the inflow of oxygen into the packaging and the loss of moisture. As a result, it protects the packaging from deterioration.
Nanotechnology is used to produce smart packaging in order to extend the product’s shelf life and the product can be transported further. Antimicrobial agents and nano-sensors have been developed in smart packaging to detect food spoilage and release nano-antimicrobial agents to extend shelf life. It helps supermarkets and hypermarkets to keep food fresh for a longer time.