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Metal-based nanomaterials in the food industry

Identification

Key words AgNPs, TIO2, metal, active packaging, minimal processing, biofilms, engineered nanoparticles, nanocomposites, ethylene
Latest version 2013/09/25
Completed by IRTA

How does it work?

Primary objective
  • Antimicrobial activity as well as preventing ethylene oxidation.
  • Active as oxygen scavenging.
  • Enhance mechanical and barrier properties of polymers and prevent the photodegradation of plastics.
Working principle Nanotechnology is the study of phenomena and properties of materials taking place at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales. Most of the time these properties differ significantly from those at a larger scale. Following the European Commission recommendation [1], a nanomaterial is: “a natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50 % or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm. In specific cases and where warranted by concerns for the environment, health, safety or competitiveness the number size distribution threshold of 50 % may be replaced by a threshold between 1 and 50 %”.

To display its specific properties, nanocomposite material has to be inserted in a carrier in order to reduce the possibility to form agglomerates. For metallic-based nanocomposites, such as Ag, Cu, CuO, TiO2, ZnO, Pd and Fe, carriers can be polymers (PE, PVC, PLA, EVOH...), metals (stainless steel), silicates (glass, Zeolite...) and organic material (chitosan, cellulose). The variety of carriers gives the oportunity to modify packaging but also to modify working surfaces [2]. Oxidized silver nanoparticles (AgNP), already inserted in a carrier, interact with oxygen creating antimicrobial properties [3] by leakage of the cellular material due to the association of AgNP with the membrane [4]. The optimal antimicrobial activity of AgNP is found for particles from 1 to 10 nm [5]. Nano-sized TiO2 particles have UV-blocking as well as antimicrobial properties [6], dismishing the risk associated to biofilms being one of the most promising application in food products [7]. Nano TiO2 particles have a size from 30 to 350 nm and their properties are related with their crystalline structure (tetragonal, orthorhombic) and their band gap [2].

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Additional effects Even if it is a mature technology there is a concern on the risks associated with the migration of ions in food and drinks.
Important process parameters The technology used to insert the nanoparticle in the carrier will determine the process parameters. These technologies are related to physical principles (for example UV irradiation or heat), chemical principles (reducing agents such as D-glucose, lactic acid, L-ascorbic acid…) or a combination of both.
Important product parameters Metal-based nanoparticle ability to be traped in the carrier; size of the nanoparticles to show new physico-chemical properties; type of the carrier depending on application.

What can it be used for?

Products Food packaging materials, working surfaces, water
Operations Packaging (through insertion in the carrier)
Solutions for short comings
  • "Bioactive", "Intelligent", and "Smart" packaging
  • UV-blocking properties

What can it NOT be used for?

Products For metal-based nanocomposites applied to foods, metal migration levels need to be controlled (check legislation).
Operations Depending on the nature of the compounds nanomaterial/carrier, all operations modifying the properties of the nanomaterial must be avoided (f.i. thermal operations). Thus, each nanomaterial application will have each specific restricted operations.
Other limitations -
Risks or hazards Although metals have been used in the food sector to isolate foodstuff from the environment, the use of nanoparticles can pose a problem of migration of ions and contamination of the food product.

Implementation

Maturity Some nanomaterial such as TiO2 are already in use in different EU countries, i.e. nano coating for Oxygen barrier.
Modularity /Implementation Film including nanomaterial is produced by supplier. Food producer uses the film for packaging. Thus, implementation is similar to packaging systems using other kinds of films.
Consumer aspects Athough nanoparticles are already used in the food industry, there are relevant concerns by consumers for the use of such materials [9,10,11]. Moreover, a recent study has reported that this technology is hardly understood or associated with food by costumers. Negative utilities (dislike or aversion were reported for nanotechnology, among other novel technologies. [12]
Legal aspects Concerning the use of nanoparticles, legislation is not fully developed. A study case-by-case approach must be implemented [8] through the pre-market approval system in food and feed legislation (novel foods, food additives, feed additives, plastic food contact materials, migration). Regulation (EC) No 258/97, Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 , Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003, Regulation (EC) No 4502/2009, Regulation (EC) No 10/2011.
Environmental aspects Concerns over safety of nanotechnologies and its impact on the environment have already been raised by organisations as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, The ETC Group and The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. [10]

Further Information

Institutes IRTA, CSIC - IATA
Companies Dupont, NUREL
References
  1. EFSA (2011). Guidance on the risk assessment of the application of nanoscience and nanotechnologies in the food and feed chain. The EFSA Journal, 9(5), 1-36, 2140.
  2. Llorens A, Lloret E., Picouet P.A., Trbojevich R. and Fernandez A. (2012). Metallic-based micro and nano-structured materials in food contact materials and active food packaging. Trends in Foods Science and technology 24(1); 19-29.
  3. Lok, C., Ho, C. M., Chen, R., He, Q. Y., Yu, W. Y., Sun, H., et al. (2007). Silver nanoparticles: partial oxidation and antibacterial activities. Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry, 12, 527-534.
  4. Pal, S., Tak, Y. K., & Song, J. M. (2007). Does the antibacterial activity of silver nanoparticles depend on the shape of the nanoparticle? A study of the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. Applied and Environmetal Microbiology, 73, 1712-1720.
  5. Fernandez, A., Soriano, E., Lopez-Carballo, G., Picouet, P., Lloret, E., Gavara, R., et al. (2009). Preservation of aseptic conditions in absorbent pads by using silver nanotechnology. Food Research International, 42, 1105-1111.
  6. Nordman, H., & Berlin, M. (1986). Titanium. In G. Friberg, G. F. Nordberg, & V. B. Vouk (Eds.), Handbook on the toxicology of metals, Vol. II, Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  7. Chorianopoulos, N. G., Tsoukleris, D. S., Panagou, E. Z., Falaras, P., & Nychas, G.-J. E. (2011). Use of titaniumdioxide (TiO2) photocatalysts as alternative means for Listeria monocytogenes biofilm disinfection in food processing. Food Microbiology, 28, 164-170.
  8. EU comission Communication from the comission to the european parliament, the council and the european economic and social comittee. Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials.COM(2012) 572 final.
  9. Cristina Buzea, Ivan Pacheco, and Kevin Robbie (2007). "Nanomaterials and Nanoparticles: Sources and Toxicity". Biointerphases 2 (4): MR17–71. doi:10.1116/1.2815690. PMID 20419892.
  10. Qasim Chaudhry (2009). Nanotechnology for Food Applications: Current Status and Consumer Safety Concerns. 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting: Nanofoodfor Healthier Living? Chicago 16 February 2009.
  11. Risk Perception of Nanotechnology – Analysis of Media Coverage. Edited by René Zimmer, Rolf Hertel, Gaby-Fleur Böl. Federal Institute for Risk Assessment – BFR, 2010.
  12. Deliverable 3.10. Report on final evaluation of consumer acceptance study. ttz Bremerhaven on behalf HighTech Europe (www.hightecheurope.eu), 2012

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Created by Hte irta on 25 September 2013, at 09:35