CHAPTER 7: Nanotechnology in Food Packaging
Published:17 May 2017
Food packaging is an integral component of the global food supply chain, protecting food from dirt, chemical contaminants and microorganisms, and helping to maintain food quality during transport and storage. Much of this packaging relies on modern polymeric materials, which have been developed to help control the exposure of products to light, oxygen and moisture. These have the benefits of being lightweight, cost-effective, reusable, recyclable and resistant to chemical and physical damage. Although traditional polymeric materials can fulfill many of these requirements, efforts continue to maintain or improve packaging performance while reducing the use of raw materials, waste and costs. The use of nanotechnology to produce nanocomposite materials has great promise to improve the characteristics of food packaging, but many of the products are still in their infancy. Only a relatively small number of nanoenabled products have entered the market and many, but not all, occupy niche markets. This chapter briefly describes the areas where nanomaterials have been used in research and commercial products to improve mechanical and barrier properties and to create active and intelligent packaging materials. It also addresses the regulation of nanomaterials in food contact applications and migration when evaluating the safety of these materials.