2.5.4 Food contact materials (FCMs) based on metal/metal oxide nanoparticles
Food contact materials (FCMs) are all materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, including packaging materials but also cutlery, dishes, processing machines, containers etc. The food contact materials based on metal/metal oxide nanoparticles use especially:
The finely dispersed nanosilver particles permanently imbedded in the containers can significantly reduce bacteria by as much as 99 % and insure safer, fresher and tastier food.
Nano-Titanium particles measure 5nm, which is about 1/200 of the size of traditional anti-bacterial agents or 1/1000 of the size of bacteria. This enables the Nano Titanium's catalyst action to eliminate bacteria and odours effectively, protecting the food with clean chilled air. The Nano-Titanium ultrafine filters can capture and eliminate bacteria and odours up to 99% of the particles and ensure fresh and purified air is circulated through the fridge compartments (for instance Hitachi's Advanced Multi Flow system described later).
Aluminium foil is widely used in flexible packaging for food because it offers outstanding barrier properties. Nanotechnologies enable to improve properties of the foil surface, for instance to develop anti-adhesive coating or black coating of baking foil which does not reflect heat in an oven.
- Nano ZnO
Moreover, ZnO nanoparticles do not discolor, nor does it require ultra-violet to get activated. These properties make nano ZnO a superior non-organic antibacterial agent versus other materials used nowadays.
- anti-bacterial and anti-biotic properties
- sunscreen and anti ultraviolet (anti UV-A and anti UV-B) properties
- dishwasher safe, microwave safe and freezer safe
- hard to break
- prevents the static electricity
- anti-bacterial properties
- odours elimination (deodorant effects)
- trapping dust particles
- excellent barrier properties for various gases (e.g. carbon dioxide and oxygen)
- UV screening effect
- anti-adhesive coatings
- colour coatings
- coatings reducing heat reflection
- anti-bacterial properties without UV activation
- odours elimination (deodorant effects)
The further development in this area is strongly dependent on the perception of nanotechnologies in food contact materials by the consumers. Food companies are still hesitant to incorporate nanomaterials for uncertainty of future regulations and standards and for fear of negative consumer reactions. The public attitude towards the use of nanotechnologies in food or food contact materials is distinguished by high degree of uncertainty, scepticism, wariness, or even refusal. This was highlighted by the FSA Evidence Review of Public Attitudes to Emerging Food Technologies published recently. This report also indicates that attitudes to novel food technologies in the USA and Asia seem to be generally more positive than in Europe. Nevertheless, we can suppose that the general public attitude to nanotechnologies in food packaging might be less negative than to nanotechnologies incorporated into food itself.
The use of nanotechnologies in food packaging in Europe is in principle sufficiently regulated by the Regulation EC/1935/2004 that covers all materials come into contact with foodstuffs. According to this regulation the EC or individual Member States may ask the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to conduct a safety evaluation of food contact materials. Food contact plastics are subject to additional measures regulated by the Regulation (EC) 282/2008 on recycled plastic materials and articles and by the Regulation (EC) No 450/2009 which sets down additional requirements to Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 for active and intelligent materials and articles.
Furthermore, according to the study "Out of the Laboratory and On to Our Plates: Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture" published by the Friends of the Earth Australia, Europe, United States, and Germany in April 2008, there is a rapidly expanding body of scientific studies demonstrating that some of the nanomaterials now being used in foods and agricultural products introduce new risks to human health and the environment. For example, nanoparticles of silver, titanium dioxide, zinc and zinc oxide, materials now used in nutritional supplements, food packaging and food contact materials, have been found to be highly toxic to cells in test tube studies. Preliminary environmental studies also suggest that these substances may be toxic to ecologically important species such as water fleas.
1) Examples of products based on nanosilver:
- Food containers
Sharper Image® (USA)
FresherLongerTM Miracle Food Storage Containers infused with naturally antibacterial silver nanoparticles easyly keep foods fresher three or even four times longer - fruits, vegetables, herbs, breads, cheeses, soups, sauces and meats. In tests comparing FresherLonger to conventional containers, the 24-hour growth of bacteria inside. FresherLonger containers was reduced by over 98 percent because of the silver nanoparticles. FresherLongerTM Plastic Storage Bags, re-sealable zip-top food storage bags are infused silver nano-particles in order to reduce the growth of bacteria, mold and fungus. FresherLonger bags are transparent with the signature gold tint of silver nanoparticles.
BlueMoonGoods, LLC (USA)
BlueMoonGoodsTM, a new super airtight Fresh Box Silver Nanoparticle Food Storage Containers can reduce bacteria by as much as 99.9%
Baby Dream® Co. Ltd. (South Korea)
Through silver nano poly system of Nano Silver Baby Milk Bottle 99.9% of germs are prevented and it maintains anti-bacteria, deodorizing function as well as freshness."
- Cutting Boards
A-DO Global (Korea)
Nano Silver Antibacterial Cutting Board with thickness of 13mm restrains the breeding of bacteria and ensures it stays clean and hygienic.
Nano-Silver has also been incorporated into the inner surface of domestic refrigerators to prevent microbial growth and maintain a clean and hygienic environment in the fridge. Some examples of products already available on the market are:
Daewoo® Germany (Korea)
Silver particles were applied to major parts of refrigerator in order to restrain the growth and increase of a wide variety of bacteria and eliminate odor particles. Accordingly, it is latest pro-health technology to ensure freshness of food products and ultimately, your health. It also maintains balance of hormone within our body and intercepts electromagnetic waves significantly.
Haier YuHangTM (China)
Intelligent and nanotechnology insulation materials were used to halve the refrigerator's thickness and fluorescence.
NCT introduced a revolutionary coating nano-silver onto the surface metal products by utilizing Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) technology. The properties of the coating (such as hardness, structure, chemical and adhesion) can be accurately controlled. The proprietary solution provides all coatings remain long lasting antibacterial function with hardness strengthened.
2) Examples of products based on nano-titanium:
Ranges of refrigerators (e.g. R550ET5X fridge) incorporate the Hitachi's innovative 'Triple Clean System' which combines a Nano-Titanium Filter, a new Negative-Ion Generator, and an Advanced Multi-Flow System. Nano- Titanium Filter and new Negative-Ion Generator work together to eliminate associated unwanted odours to ensure food stays to its original flavour and texture far longer than conventional fridges. The Negative-Ion Generator produces negative-ions which absorb bacteria and odours, as well as suppress bacteria multiplication. The antibacterial Nano-Titanium filtration system then captures and eliminates those bacteria and odours to the scale of five nanometres through the ultra-fine filter in the air canal of the fridge wall. As well as trapping the particles, the Nano-Titanium filtration system also ensures fresh and purified air is circulated through the fridge compartments. Hitachi also launched the Nano Titanium range of vacuum cleaners which have several layers of filters that make up a synergistic filtration system capturing micro particles at the nano level.
3) Examples of products based on aluminium:
Toppits Back ® aluminums combine the anti-adhesive properties of paper with the advantages of aluminum foil with regard to plasticity. Since 2004, the black coated Toppits Fix Roast aluminum foil with use of nanotechnology has been developed. The black coating material reached up to 100 degrees Celsius higher surface temperatures when cooking, which heat is directly forwarded to the baked food. The final effect is that the food is prepared quicker and it will remain outside crispy and juicy inside.
4) Examples of products based on Nano ZnO:
SongSing Nano Technology Co., Ltd. (Taiwan)
Nano Plastic Wrap with incorporated ZnO nanoparticles features the following functions: UV protection, IR reflection, sterilizing and anti-molding properties, better temperature tolerance, fire-proof and bearing grinding.
Detailed information about the market size of this relatively narrow segment is not publicly available. From the global point of view, the number of nano-based packaging applications is reported to be growing fast. Three years ago fewer than 40 packaging products containing nanoparticles were thought to be on the market, compared to the 400 plus currently available. The market for food packaging containing nanomaterials has been predicted to reach $360m in 2008 and $20bn by 2020 (http://www.packaging-gateway.com).
 See Lyndhurst, B.: An Evidence Review of Public Attitudes to Emerging Food Technologies. Food Standards Agency, March 2009.
 The FSA regulatory review "A review of potential implications of nanotechnologies for regulations and risk assessment in relation to food" published in August 2008 has not identified any major gaps in regulations relating to the use of nanotechnologies in food.
 See http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:086:0009:0018:EN:PDF
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