Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 13, 2005

Nanoparticles May Provide Antimicrobial Food Packaging

The limited shelf lives of perishable foods like meat, fish, milk and fresh vegetables is an age-old problem. Refrigeration has revolutionized eating habits worldwide, improving health and saving lives. But even refrigeration has its limits, right? "No, you sniff it" is a game every household plays regularly, as we stand at the open fridge door and dubiously handle foods of unremembered age.

UK researchers are pursuing a novel idea: what if food packaging itself takes an active role in killing the bacteria that spoil food and cause sickness? A team at the University of Leeds' Nanomanufacturing Institute is investigating whether imbedding nanoparticles of zinc oxide and magnesium oxide into food packages will help. These nanoparticles have been shown to be effective in killing microorganisms.
Many scientists believe that such discoveries are pointing the way to what packaging will be like in the future. The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (SINTEF) for example is already using nanotechnology to create small particles in the film and improve the transportation of some gases through the plastic film to pump out dirty air such as carbon dioxide.

It is hoped that the concept could be used to block out harmful gases that shorten the shelf life of food. SINTEF scientists are looking at whether the film could also provide barrier protection and prevent gases such as oxygen and ethylene from deteriorating food.

Likewise, the team at the University of Leeds is hopeful that nanoparticle zinc oxide and magnesium oxide could provide safe and affordable food packaging in the not-too-distant future.


Post a Comment

<< Home