Nano-based technology to lengthen shelf-life

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

Nanotechnology The shelf-life of food and drink products may be longer in future
Nanotechnology The shelf-life of food and drink products may be longer in future
Nanotechnology and other novel technologies will be more widely adopted as ways of extending the shelf-life of food and drink products in the future.

SAB Miller is currently working on a two-year research project with Trinity College Dublin to explore ways to contain gas within plastic beer bottles.

"The idea is to get nano-based particles into our polymer to mitigate the gas exchange,"​ said Richard Corker, who leads the global research and development materials science programme for SAB Miller, at a recent workshop on the impact of novel technologies on the shelf-life in London.

At the event, organised by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Biosciences KTN and Leatherhead Food Research (LFR), Ian Muirhead, chief executive of Anacail, a spin-out company from Glasgow University, explained how activated oxygen ozone in food packaging could be used to extend shelf-life by a further day or even two.

Harmful bacteria

Muirhead said the technique, which makes use of a plasma head to generate ozone, has been shown to inactivate yeast, mould spores and harmful bacteria in food already packaged for sale.

"We are generating ozone inside sealed plastic containers, which is independent of what is in the container,"​ said Muirhead. "Whatever is in the bag​ [container] we are decontaminating the surface of the product."

Processing partners

Anacoil has successfully tested the product on bread, poultry and fish products and is currently seeking food processing partners to scale-up the technology.

Dr Susan Gordon, sales, marketing and trials manager for Advanced Microwave Technologies, described a new microwave volumetric heating technology for introducing heat deep into fluids on a continuous basis.

It works effectively on "anything you can pump through a pipe"​, said Gordon. "The biggest machine in commercial operation is being used to make haggis and black pudding."

As a pasteurisation technique, the technology creates no boundary layer effects and leaves no flavour taints, she added.

Meanwhile, in September a study by LFR revealed that consumers would be more likely to accept the use of science and technology

including nanotechnology and genetic modification​ − in food production if it resulted in cheaper or healthier food.

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