A new study published online on April 29, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety assesses two types of nanomaterials that are incorporated in active food packaging systems – nanoclays and nanosilver. Kurowel and colleagues from the National Measurement Institute and Victoria University, Australia reviewed the literature regarding the effects of nanoparticles (NPs) on system mechanical properties, NP migration from the food packaging materials and potential application of NPs in antimicrobial food packaging systems. Further, the authors reported on techniques for characterization and measurement of NPs as well as the potential migration of NPs from packaging into foodstuffs. The authors highlight that when incorporated into or coated onto polymer-based packaging materials, many NPs have proven to be effective antimicrobial agents against various microorganisms and some NPs have been reported to improve physicomechanical properties, making them valuable for applications in food packaging. However, the authors stress that there are challenges concerning the detection, characterization and quantification of NPs in food due of the variation and complexity of food compositions. Although the results of migration studies suggest that only relatively low levels of NPs migrate into various food simulants, the current knowledge on the migration of NPs and their effects is limited. To fully assess any associated risks to human health and the environment, there is an urgent need for further research to develop better detection methods for NPs and to determine the likelihood of their migration from packaging materials into foodstuffs, the authors conclude.
Kurowel, K. K. et al. (2015). “Review of mechanical properties, migration, and potential applications in active food packaging systems containing nanoclays and nanosilver.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (available online April 29, 2015, open access).