NIT Andhra Pradesh Researchers Show How Nanoparticles Can Be Used In Food Packaging Materials
Nanoparticles-based materials offer greater advantage over conventional and non-biodegradable packing materials by enhancing the functional properties of foods such as bio-availability, taste, and enhancing the shelf-life, according to the researchers.
Researchers from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Andhra Pradesh and other institutes have demonstrated how the concept of nanotechnology can be used to develop food packaging materials that enhance the shelf-life, maintain quality, retain flavor and color of packed food materials.
The research team Dr Tingirikari Jagan Mohan Rao, Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, NIT Andhra Pradesh, have published their findings on the Journal of European Food research and Technology.
The article was co-authored by research scholar, Akriti Tirkey, PhD, Mizoram University, along with Dr Punuri Jayasekhar Babu, Assistant Professor, Biomaterials and Bioengineering Research Laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, Pachhunga University College, Mizoram University.
“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, texture, flavor, and shelf-life. Additionally, nanomaterials in the form of sensors can be employed to maintain the temperature, detect pathogens, pesticides, toxins, and other chemicals in packed foods,” NIT AP said.
“The research emphasizes 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,” Dr Rao explained.
“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,” Dr Rao added.
Speaking about his recent work, Dr Babu said, “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.”
“It is worthwhile to note that the nanoparticles used for the packing materials may migrate into food when it comes in contact with packaging materials and hence, the impact of inorganic nanoparticles should be studied. Also, nanomaterials especially nano packaging should be only permitted after rigorous testing before applying them to food systems,” he said.