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Intelligent Packaging Systems: Sensors and Nanosensors

Sensors and Nanosensors to Monitor Food Quality and Safety
© QUB

Fuertes et al. (2016) reviewed the role of the different concepts of intelligent pacakging for enhancing food safety and controlling the quality of food.

What is Intelligent Packaging?

Intelligent packaging is any type of container that provides a specific functionality beyond a physical barrier between the food product and the surrounding environment. Intelligent packaging technologies use internal and external indicators to monitor interaction between the food, the packaging and the environment. There are two ways in the intelligent packaging systems, those supporting data systems: (bars labels or radiofrequency identification plates) used to store or transmit data and indicators of incidents or biosensors in packaging that allow control of the environment and product packaging.

There are a number of applications of intelligent packaging on the market:

  • Time and temperature indicators: Simple, low cost and affordable technology used widely to monitor and translate quality of foodstuffs.

  • Integrity Indicators: Gas indicators are a useful means of controlling the toxic composition of gases produced from decomposing food in a food container that can endanger health of consumers; as a control measure, a change occurs in the indicator color by chemical or enzymatic reaction.

  • Freshness Indicators: A freshness indicator directly indicates the quality of the product; it is usually in the form of labels on the container. Typically, these indicators focus on the detection of the first kind of change (pH, gas composition, etc.).

  • Radio Frequency Indentification (RFID): RIFD tags are an advanced form of support data information that can identify and locate a product with a special tag that emits radio waves

Contribution of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology involves the study, design, creation, synthesis, manipulation, and application of materials, devices, and functional systems through the control and exploitation of phenomena and properties of matter on a very small scale, usually between 1 and 100 nanometers’ length.

Nanotechnology enables the application of nanosensors in the food packaging to control their quality, during the various stages of the logistic process, and to ensure product quality to the final consumer.

Nanotechnology through IP can help in providing authentication, tracking, and locating product features to avoid falsification, adulteration, and prevention in the diversity of products intended for a specific market. There are still many concerns for consumers of food nanotechnology; one of the most important is the uncertainty of the behavior of nanoparticles in the body and the toxic effects they could have.

What we would like you to do

Please have a read of Fuertes et al. (2016) review here, to find out more about the application of intelligent packaging and contribution of nanotechnology in the monitoring of food security. The review provides insightful schematic representations of the different intelligent packaging concepts to help you understand how they are applied.

© QUB
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