NanoPack consortium, led by Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, has received funding from the European Union (EU) to develop a new nanotechnology-based antimicrobial packaging solution that helps extend food shelf life.

The €7.7m EU fund will be used to demonstrate, validate and test food-packaging products with antimicrobial surfaces based on natural materials for a three-year period.

As part of the new project, NanoPack will use nanotechnology to develop polymer composites based on natural halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) as reliable and safe carriers, which can tailor-release bioactive payloads.

HNTs are unable to migrate from packaging into food due, but NanoPack’s solution will enable the slow release of potent, volatile, natural and EU-approved essential oils into packaging.

The oils have both antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and can be tailored to inhibit the growth of most food-borne microbes, therefore prolonging shelf life.

"We intend to present better performing, safer and smarter products that will position Europe as the leader in food nanotechnology."

NanoPack coordinator Dr. Ester Segal said: "NanoPack will demonstrate a solution for extending food shelf life by using novel smart antimicrobial surfaces, applied in active food packaging products.

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"NanoPack will enhance food safety for consumers by significant growth inhibition of food-borne microbes, which in turn will prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and early spoilage.

"We intend to present better performing, safer and smarter products that will position Europe as the leader in food nanotechnology and smart antimicrobial packaging while increasing competitiveness and growth."