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Biosensors a key area for nanotechnology

By Rod Addy, 04-Dec-2012

Related topics: Quality, Safety, Hygiene, Packaging Technology, Primary Packaging, Safety & Regulation, Contamination, Nanotechnology

Nanobiosensors hold considerable potential as future areas of development for nanotechnology, according to a recent study.

However, ‘Nanobiotechnology perspectives. Role of nanotechnology in the food industry: a review’, which is to be published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, claims case-by-case toxicity studies are needed.

“Advances in microfluid and inorganic nanoparticle production have enabled the preparation of efficient sensors to rapidly detect pathogens or pesticides in food or on the farm or in the product on the market,” the authors conclude.

“The nanobiosensor can also be applied in environmental pollution control in the food industry. Functionalised food with nanoparticles as flavours and nutrients carriers can enhance food quality and safety.

Toxicity

“The important issue in the immediate future will be the toxicity of these nanomaterials in plants, animals and humans and then it must be studied case to case.”

Electronic noses and tongues, which use arrays of nanosensors, have considerable potential in assessing beer quality, especially at the fermentation stage, the research claims. Recently developed electronic noses have also been applied to the detection of fungal contamination of cereal grain samples.

In particular, the researchers state: “Electrochemical nanosensors, especially amperometric ones, are of great interest nowadays, because of their high sensitivity for the detection of important components or pollutants in agriculture and in foods.”

Pathogen and mycotoxin detection

Studies suggest nanobiosensors can be used in pathogen and mycotoxin detection in foods, they add, with Salmonella, E.Coli and Listeria being most studied.

For example, an antibody-functionalised carbon nanotube nanosensor has been used for detecting Salmonella in a nutrient broth solution. And a cholesterol biosensor containing multiwall carbon nanotubes and cholesterol oxidase has been constructed on glassy carbon electrodes with excellent performance.

There is evidence to suggest that nanoparticles of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) could combat Salmonella and Listeria, the researchers state.

Shelf life could be improved through encapsulation of nitric oxide in nanostructures that improve its stability, they note, citing one example in which its incorporation into packaging had enhanced the preservation of button mushrooms.

Edible nanofilm

Use of edible nanofilm could also help preserve food such as fresh produce, meat, confectionery, baked goods and French fries for longer, acting as active packaging, increasing barrier protection, the authors claim.

“The edible thin film can be prepared from edible nanolaminates that might protect the food from moisture, lipids, gases, off-flavours and odours.”

Nanotechnology applications in non-edible packaging include enhancing plastic barrier properties; incorporation of bioactive sensing and signalling regarding food quality and improving heat resistance, states the review.

Duran and Marcato state that prolamin, or Zein, offers opportunities as a carrier for flavour compounds or nutraceuticals, either as nanobeads or nanoparticles.

Source: International Journal of Food Science and Technology

‘Nanobiotechnology perspectives. Role of nanotechnology in the food industry: a review’

DOI: 10.1111/ijfs.12027

Authors: Durán, N. and Marcato, P. D.