Recent progress in using zein nanoparticles-loaded nanocomposites for food packaging applications
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Taylor & Francis
School of Engineering
Biopolymers are important due to their exceptional functional and barrier properties and also their non-toxicity and eco-friendly nature for various food, biomedical, and pharmaceutical applications. However, biopolymers usually need reinforcement strategies to address their poor mechanical, thermal, and physical properties as well as processability aspects. Several natural nanoparticles have been proposed as reinforcing agents for biopolymeric food packaging materials. Among them, zein nanoparticles (ZNPs) have attracted a lot of interest, being an environmentally friendly material. The purpose of the present review paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of the ZNPs-loaded nanocomposites for food packaging applications, starting from the synthesis, characteristics and properties of ZNPs, to the physicochemical properties of the ZNPs-loaded nanocomposites, in terms of morphology, permeability, solubility, optical features, hydrophobic/hydrophilic behavior, structural characteristics, thermal features, and mechanical attributes. Finally, at the end of this review, some considerations about the safety issues and gastrointestinal fate of ZNPs, as well as the use of ZNPs-based nanocomposites as food packaging, are reported, taking into account that, despite the enormous benefits, nanotechnology also presents some risks associated to the use of nanometric materials.