Nanoparticles in food contact materials and their potential to be released into foods

T.V. Duncan, K.V. Pillai
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, US

Keywords: nanocomposites, release, food safety

Summary:

While nanotechnology may find utility in a number of food-related applications, none are as close to commercialization as nanotechnology-enabled plastics intended for the packaging, storage and transport of foods and beverages. For food contact applications, nanocomposite plastics offer many advantages over traditional polymeric materials. They manifest gains in strength, toughness, biodegradability, flame retardancy, barrier to gas migration, and resistance to scalping and leaching of flavors, colors and nutrients; moreover, because of the unique physical and chemical properties manifested at the nanoscale, nanocomposites can be designed which offer a diverse range of useful functionality, including the ability to inhibit microbial growth or the ability to detect the presence of chemical and biological contaminants in food contact substances. The goal of this talk is to provide a scientific overview of nanotechnology-enabled plastics for food contact applications and discuss projects ongoing at FDA aimed at assessing issues related to release of nanoparticles from these materials.