Use of nanotechnology in food processing, packaging and safety – review
This review focuses on the use of nanotechnologies in food processing and packaging with special attention to their reflection on food quality and safety. The topic of this review includes application of nanotechnology in food processing, application of nanotechnology in food packaging and food contact materials, nanotechnology and food safety as well as regulation of nanotechnologies to ensure food safety. Nanotechnology has potential applications in all aspects of food sectors including food processing, food packaging, food monitoring, production of functional foods, development of foods capable of modifying their colour, flavour or nutritional properties according to a person’s dietary needs as well as production of stronger flavourings, colourings and nutritional food additives. Moreover, lowering the costs of food additive ingredients and increasing the shelf life of food products could be achieved using this technology. The food market demands technologies, which are essential to keep market leadership in the food processing industry to produce fresh authentic, convenient and flavourful food products. Prolonging the product shelf life and freshness as well as improving the quality of food are the target. Nanotechnology is a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the food industry. Developing smart packaging to optimize product shelf life using nanotechnologies has been the goal of many companies. Such packaging systems would be able to repair small holes/tears, respond to environmental conditions such as temperature and moisture changes and alert the customer if the food is contaminated. Nanotechnology can provide solutions for these, for example modifying the permeation behaviour of foils, increasing barrier properties (mechanical, thermal, chemical and microbial), improving mechanical and heat-resistance properties, developing active antimicrobial and antifungal surfaces, and sensing as well as signaling microbiological and biochemical changes and creates the nano-biodegradable packaging. Development of food analytical methods for the detection of tiny amounts of a chemical contaminant, virus or bacteria in food system is another potential use of nanotechnology. This will result in more safety for the food processing system. There is an urgent need for regulatory systems capable of managing any risks associated with nanofoods and the use of nanotechnologies in the food industry.
Key words: Nanotechnology, Nanofoods, Packaging, Safety, Biodegradable