Nanotechnology of metals in food packaging applications

In the form of salts and colloids, in complexes such as silver zeolites, or as oxides or elemental nanoparticles, metals are effective antimicrobials. They are incorporated in food contact polymers for food preservation purposes, and are used to decontaminate surfaces in industrial environments.

Currently, silver is the most commonly used metal in nano-engineered materials. Additionally, nanostructures based on copper and zinc are showing highly promising results in food technology applications on lab scale. Ion migration from those polymeric matrices is the key issue for the determination of the antimicrobial effectiveness, but also for proving that the legal requirements are being met.

Our group can provide advice on the characteristics of novel contact surfaces with metal ions in food technology applications, assist in certification processes, and support R+D for novel nano-structured metal based surfaces, while contributing also own developments. As benchmark example, we have developed silver and copper/cellulose nano-composites with high antimicrobial activity (up to four log10 reduction of the main contaminant groups in absorbent materials in contact with fresh foods), and demonstrated their ability to support safety in retail food packaging and liners, which are possibly useful for other goods, such as flower packaging and textiles as well.


Contact and Organization Details

Dr. Avelina Fernandez

Food Conservation and Food Quality Department at IATA,

Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Tel. : +34 963900022 Ext. 2119