NanoPack Project: Bioprotection from Food Pathogens through Active Packaging
Nanotechnology, which operates using specific target materials on the nano scale, has quickly become a popular topic of research across many disciplines. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) in particular has facilitated a broad spectrum of Nanotechnology research in an effort to prevent food-borne illnesses and preserve food in just the past few years. NanoPack Project is heading up the use of nanotechnology in food packaging by using antimicrobial materials to prevent the formation of pathogens. In fact, the European Union (EU) awarded over $7 million in funding towards the NanoPack Project in support of its mission to normalize nanotechnology in food packaging, such as plastic wrap. This is referred to as Active Packaging. Active Packaging is a specific type of Nanotechnology which infuses natural elements containing antimicrobial properties into packaging material. While these natural elements are not harmful to the consumer, they are proven detrimental to potential pathogens.
The antimicrobial properties now within the food packaging act as inhibitors to the development of microbes, which can become dangerous food pathogens or cause premature spoiling of the food. The EU funded the NanoPack Project in an effort to reduce food-borne illnesses as well as food waste. The NanoPack Project aims to have flexible nanotech packaging on the market by the end of 2019.
Some of the most common foods NanoPack experiments Active Packaging on includes meat, fish, grapes and bread. In recent studies, the Spanish Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) discovered “the efficacy of the Lactobacillus sakei CTC494 strain to completely inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes” in salmon, when vacuum-sealed and refrigerated. While there has been concern as to the possible effects of Active Packaging, the tide of opinion is quickly changing. The FDA has recently given the use of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) in packaging “the status of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)”. These developments have exciting implications for the future safety and preservation of some of our favorite foods: meat, fish, fruits and bread.
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