Nanotechnology 'safeguards' food safety

22 January 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Nanotechnology has successfully been used to improve food safety.

A contaminant-resistant surface for stainless steel has been created to improve production efficiency and productivity.

Contamination - or fouling - of surfaces such as worktops and conveyors in a food environment can impact operating efficiency and overall product quality, researchers at the Department of Food Science University of Massachusetts have claimed.

"Such fouling will result in decreased heat transfer rates, pressure fluctuations and an overall loss of product quality," the 'Anti-fouling Surface Modified Stainless Steel for Food Processing' report stated.

"Operating costs are further increased by frequent shutdowns for cleaning and the corresponding use of chemical detergents and sanitizers, which also increases the environmental load and impact," it added, according to Food Production Daily.

Using 316L stainless steel heat exchanger plates, the coating was tested and modified to resist contamination during food processing.

As much as 97 per cent of the contamination was cut when using the nanoparticle-modified surface, the study showed.

There is already evidence that typical nanostructures have the ability to resist fouling, although they have a number of limitations, often resulting in high running costs and complex fabrication.

The longevity of the substances has not yet been researched, but the latest tests for the newest contaminant-resistant surface indicate its properties remain after running the test as many as ten times.

Despite the development, more work needs to be carried out before the product can be used commercially, with flow rates, temperatures and pressures still needing to be tested, the report in Food & Bioproducts Processing indicated.

Nanotechnology recently also saw a breakthrough in the technology industry, after scientists discovered a two-dimensional nanomaterial.

Layers of thin material, much smaller than the industry-standard benchmark, were created by researchers in Australia and could result in smaller and faster electrical devices joining the technology market in the future.

The breakthrough of the material, measuring just ten nanometres, was found by scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia, Advanced Materials reported.

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