Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Application Of Nanotechnology, Antimicrobial, And Polymer Films In Food Safety And Quality

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorPaul Dawson
InstitutionClemson University
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsMarginal
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorHuman Health
Broad Research Categories Hazard
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Fundingn/a
Annual Fundingn/a
Funding SourceUSDA
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2003
Anticipated End Year2008


The rapid detection of toxic food agents and the development of strategies to reduce their presence in food are problems that need to be addresed to improve the safety of the food and water supply. This project will utilize nanotechnolgy to develop rapid and simple biosensors to detect the presence of inetntional and ubiquitous toxic agenst in food and water. Additionally, active films will be developed to reduce the risk from these toxic agents by using naturla materials.

OBJECTIVES: 1.Develop nanotechnology applications for food safety and quality. 2.Optimize antimicrobial and antioxidant packaging films for foods. 3.Develop biopolymer film applications for foods.

The basic concept is to attach specific antibodies that will link to target bacterial pathogens to nanoparticles in the size range of 100 to 500 nm in diameter. The nanoparticles will possess luminescent properties and contain a small amount of iron embedded in the particle. Various methods will be evaluated for attaching the antibody to the nanoparticles and this procedure will be optimized for retention of antibody activity and secure binding of the antibody to the particle. 2. The incorporation of biocides, including nisin, lysozyme, and EDTA, into protein and polymer packaging films will be performed using a heat-press method developed at Clemson University in cooperation between the Food Science/Human Nutrition and Chemical Engineering Departments. In this process, the film components are mixed in the dry form then ?melted? into a film material under heat and pressure. The melt temperature varies depending upon the raw film material being used. Materials that will be used include soy and corn protein, and common polymer film materials such as ethylene and styrene. The film material will then be tested for its efficacy in reducing bacterial pathogens using both a zone of inhibition assay and log reduction method. For the zone assay an 8 mm diameter film sample will be placed on a bacterial lawn inoculated with a Listeria monocytogenes, a nonpathogenic strain of Esherichia coli, or a nalidixic acid resistant strain of Salmonella typhimurium or Salmonella enteriditis then the clear zone of inhibition will be measured after incubation. Similarly, an 8-cm diameter film sample will be placed in a sterile petri dish and covered with 15 ml of broth containing the above same organisms used in the zone test. 3. Development of biopolymer film applications for foods will also be a collaborative project with Drs Acton and Ogale. Alteration of film physical properties including strength, elasticity, permeability and moisture absorption will be tested by changing the composition and/or the processing parameters of the film. The use of lower cost soy and wheat flour and the addition of fats, waxes, and emulsifiers will be included. The thermal compaction method will be employed as this is more environmentally friendly then casting. The continuous thermal extrusion will also be developed for the mass production of these films. Testing will include conventional physical tests, permeability tests, and ?shelf life? tests for the films stored for 6-12 months under various temperature and relative humidity.