Zinc Oxide Calcium Alginate Nanofilms as a food preservative

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nanofilms.png​There is considerable interest in using nanoparticles in packaging and preservative films for food preservation and disinfecting.  Conventional antimicrobial agents and bactericides are losing efficacy as bacterium strains become more resistant to conventional antibiotics.  Zinc Oxide nanoparticles have been shown to be effective in killing both staph and e.coli bacteria in laboratory tests.  Calcium alginate offers promise as both an edible food film and a biodegradable packaging material.  It is produced from brown algae formed by gelation with ionic calcium.  The molecular structure of calcium alginate film is ideal for incorporating zinc oxide nanoparticles.  Zinc Oxide nanoparticles are relatively low risk nanoparticles that could add antimicrobial properties to these calcium alginate films. 

Scientists have recently shown that zinc oxide calcium alginate films are effective, biodegradable, non-toxic and biocompatible films capable of extending shelf life and preventing pathogenic contamination of foods[1].  The film is manufactured by incorporating zinc oxide nanoparticles into the calcium alginate gelation process.  The increased surface area from using nanoparticles makes the zinc oxide calcium alginate food films very effective antimicrobial agents.  Work is currently underway to examine the stability, nanoparticle release rates, and color retaining properties of this novel film.


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This product improves food safety and increases resource efficiency by preventing pathogenic contamination and increasing shelf life. [1]

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  1. Bajpai SK, Chand N, Chaurasia V. Nano Zinc Oxide-Loaded Calcium Alginate Films with Potential Antibacterial Properties. Food and Bioprocess Technology. 2012 ;5(5):1871 - 1881.

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This film has the potential to reduce food illnesses caused by pathogens contamination of meat and produce. Additionally, this film may serve as a functional edible packaging film for processed microwaveable foods. Lastly, this film may enhance the nutritional value of foods by the release of zinc oxide nanoparticles by the film. [1]

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  1. Bajpai SK, Chand N, Chaurasia V. Nano Zinc Oxide-Loaded Calcium Alginate Films with Potential Antibacterial Properties. Food and Bioprocess Technology. 2012 ;5(5):1871 - 1881.

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This film and other technologies like create complex risks in food safety and health. During the manufacturing phase of the zinc oxide nanoparticles, there is potential of release of nanoparticles into the environment. This poses a human and ecological risk dependent on the fate and transport of the zinc oxide nanoparticles. It is unknown what the ecological impacts of increased amounts of zinc in the water and soil would have. Additionally, a human health risk exists due to the release of the zinc oxide nanoparticles by the film. The dose and toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles is not well studied. There is a lack of control over dosing of zinc oxide nanoparticles contamination in the food the film is tasked to protect. A recent report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has concluded that commercial use of engineered nanoscale materials (ENMs) in food packaging exists in other countries already. While not approved by the USDA at present, the potential for these products to enter the food supply eventually raises questions about the effects of overexposure to these minerals by consuming processed foods packaged with these films. [1] [2]

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  1. Citekey <span>100 not found
  2. Suppan S. International Standards for Trade in Nanocoated Produce. [Internet]. Submitted . Available from: http://www.iatp.org/files/2012_05_14_CodexNano_SS_0.pdf

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