Hyderabad: Researchers at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Andhra Pradesh have developed nanotechnology-based food packaging materials that enhances shelf-life, maintains quality, retains flavour and colour of packed food materials.
Nanoparticle-based materials offer a greater advantage over conventional and non-biodegradable packing materials by enhancing the functional properties of foods such as bio-availability, taste and texture.
In the paper, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of European Food Research and Technology, the team emphasised the role of nanoparticles to provide mechanical stability to packing material and shows how the nano-sensors can be developed to detect pathogens, contamination, pesticides, and allergens and enhances the antimicrobial properties of packing material to prevent food spoilage and contamination.
“In addition to this, the role of inorganic nanoparticles in food preservation is to increase shelf-life and release of antioxidants protecting the food from harmful ultraviolet radiations. The research also discusses the food safety aspects related to nanomaterials and follows eco-friendly practices such as proper labeling on the food items, following safety regulation for disposal, to perform cytotoxic studies on humans and animals,” said Dr. Tingirikari Jagan Mohan Rao, Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, NIT Andhra Pradesh, in a statement.
Further, the paper also discussed the role of various government agencies in addressing the safety issues, bringing the legislation and regulations on the use and application of nanomaterials.
It highlights how bio-based polymers can be blended with nanoparticles to make more efficient and effective packing materials.
“Very less amount of work has been done to evaluate the toxic effects of nanoparticles on mammalian cells under in-vivo conditions. Inorganic nanoparticles are insoluble and pose a great challenge of bioaccumulation in human cells which may cause biotoxicity on a longer run, thus, hampering its use in the food processing industry,” said Dr. Punuri Jayasekhar Babu, Pachhunga University College, Mizoram University, in the statement.
Nanotechnology is an emerging area of research as its application is growing day-by-day in various sectors including food and agriculture due to their wide physical, chemical, and biological properties which are functionalised with several biomolecules to enhance the properties of packing and storage materials.
The applications of nanotechnology at the global level are estimated to be around $3 trillion.