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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Food Nanotechnology: Food Packaging Applications

Author
item McHugh, Tara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2007
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Astonishing growth in the market for nanofoods is predicted in the future, from the current market of $2.6 billion to $20.4 billion in 2010. The market for nanotechnology in food packaging alone is expected to reach $360 million in 2008. In large part the impetus for this predicted growth is the extraordinary benefits nanoscience offers to improve food packages. Improvements in fundamental characteristics of food packaging materials, such as strength, barrier properties, antimicrobial properties, and stability to heat and cold are being achieved using nanocomposite materials. Preparation and characterization of nanocomposites will be reviewed, and commercially available nanocomposite food packages will be described. Durethan, from Bayer Polymers, is a nanocomposite film enriched with an enormous number of silicate nanoparticles which reduce entrance of oxygen and other gases, and the exit of moisture, thus preventing food from spoiling. Nanocor has developed nanocrystals to be used in nanocomposite plastic beer bottles. This material minimizes loss of carbon dioxide and entrance of oxygen into beer bottles and has been adopted by several companies including Miller Brewing Company. Nanoscience is also being used develop active and intelligent packages. Antimicrobial activity can be imparted to food packages through incorporation of silver, magnesium oxide or zinc oxide nanoparticles which kill harmful microorganisms. Addition of nanosensors to food packages is also anticipated in the future. These nanosensors could be used to detect chemicals, pathogens and toxins in foods. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags could be incorporated into food packages in the future. These do not require line-of-sight for reading like bar-codes and enable registration of hundreds of tags in a second. Retail chains like Wal-Mart are testing this technology. DNA biochips are already under development to detect pathogens. Electronic tongue nano-sensors are being developed to detect substances in parts per trillion which could be used to trigger a color changes in food packages to alert the consumer to food that has been spoiled. Taking advantage of the lotus effect, dirt repellent coatings for food packages are also being developed. In addition nano wheels, nanofibers and nanotubes are being looked at as a means to improve the properties of food packages. These and other current and future applications of nanotechnology to food packaging will be discussed during this presentation.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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