Nanotechnology takes centre stage in food waste talks

The feasibility of using nanotechnology to reduce food waste is to be explored by a focus group next week comprising scientists, packaging experts, retails and manufacturers.

With food sustainability rising up the political agenda, understanding and managing shelf-life will be critical for future quality and profitability of food products.

The development of novel technologies to help solve this has been identified by the EU as one of the main drivers going forward, especially in creating intelligent and smart packaging solutions which could, for example, incorporate sensors to monitor the condition of food.

The workshop is being hosted by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) alongside partners Biosciences KTN and Leatherhead Food Research.

The technologies under discussion will include pulsed light, high pressure processing, modified atmosphere packaging and pulsed electric fields.

In particular, demonstrations around category label technology will show how this can be used to display ripeness levels, defrosting indication and the ingress of other contaminants.

NanoKTN theme manager Dr Barry Park said that with increasing pressures on the food industry, events like this will be “crucial” to engaging the entire supply chain.

“More and more we are hearing about the need for food to stay fresher for longer, whilst maintaining consistent characteristics in terms of texture, colour and taste and also whilst still being healthy, safe and value for money,” he said.

High-tech breakthroughs such as nanotechnology are now paving the way forward for future packaging innovations as companies look to optimise material performance in terms of product preservation and environmental impact.

Maxine Perella

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