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Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

Nanoparticles in Food, Health & Environment: A boon or a bane?

Anamika Saini

Amity University, Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Kant Kalwar, NH11C, Jaipur, Rajasthan-303007

Prof. Rekha S Singhal

Institute of Chemical Technology, Department of Food Engineering and Technology, Nathala Parekh Marg, Matunga, Mumbai, Maharashtra-400019

Abstract

Everything is made up of particles (particles only form the atom) and when these particles reach the nano level, they possess more surface area to volume ratio than other bigger particles that makes them more sensitive and reactive. Nanoparticles are 1000-fold smaller than human hair yet they have a bigger impact on our lives. They exhibit distinct properties as compared to the bulk material, for instance, gold nanoparticles emerge as deep red to black in color when in solution which are otherwise yellowish in their bulk form. Nanoparticles are of incredible logical intrigue in present times because of a wide assortment of applications in almost every field from agriculture to electronics, from medicines to cosmetics,textiles, and much more.  Nanotechnology has revolutionized the food sector with an increasing need for nanoparticles in various fields of food science and microbiology such as food processing, smart packaging, functional food development, detection of pathogens, and extension of shelf life. However, every great discovery comes with a downside too. There are concerns about nanoparticles leaching into the food from the packaging and getting ingested through the diet, which may damage the internal organs and also pose hazards to the environment. This review primarily centers on the fate of nanoparticles when they are utilized for active and smart packaging with chances of migration of these particles in the human diet from food articles and their gastrointestinal effect. Besides the fate of nanoparticles from packaging during the recycling process, and their recommended quantification in packing as also their environmental impact on disposal will be evaluated. Questions on whether separate disposal techniques are required for the dumping/ recycling of the nanoparticle enclosing package materials are also addressed.   

Keywords: Food packaging systems, nanoparticle migration, gastrointestinal fate, environmental fate, recovery fate, case studies    

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