Workshop on the Outlook and Challenges of Nanotechnology for Food Packaging

Brussels, Belgium
08/02/2012 – 10/02/2012


Packaging of food products has gone through a lot of transformation over the decades - from wooden crates, cardboard boxes, paper bags and glass bottles, to modern polymers that offer stronger, lightweight, recyclable, and in some cases functional materials. Food labels have also transformed over time - from merely providing a space for brand advertisement, or a list of ingredients, to the so-called ‘Smart’ labels that can inform the consumer on the quality, safety, and security of the packaged food products.

Recent developments in nanotechnologies have opened up further new possibilities for innovation and for development of novel food packaging materials. The concept of nanotechnology, i.e. the manipulation of materials at a nanometric scale to benefit from the specific physico-chemical properties occurring in this size range has been first mentioned in the late 1950s. Although the current interest in this technology started only much later, the packaging industry has identified nanotechnology as an enabler of the packaging materials of the future, initially in the domain of barrier improvement, and then in a much broader approach including today active and intelligent packaging applications.

Whilst the technology has enormous benefits to offer, it has also gone through many different states of perception, from the must-have technology at the start to a technology suffering from uncertainties concerning risks associated to some of its applications leading to consumer acceptance issues, especially in the fields related to food.

ILSI Europe has appointed an Expert Working group aiming at reviewing potential benefits of nanotechnology in food packaging applications and potential challenges in regard to their use in terms of Consumer acceptance, safety and environmental impact during their entire life cycle, migration and detection methods, risk assessment and regulatory implications.


The goal and purpose of the workshop was to:

  • Critically discuss the expert group manuscript which will be circulated prior to the workshop
  • Provide a platform for discussion among different stakeholders on the new opportunities and safety considerations
  • Gain stakeholders’ viewpoints on the future directions of the technology and a way forward to deal with the associated challenges

The outcome of the workshop discussions is considered by the expert group for finalisation of the manuscript.


To download the program, click here.


The workshop summary is available here.


Introduction to ILSI Europe
N. van Belzen, ILSI Europe (BE)

Nano in Packaging: coming to a fridge near you
C. Simoneau, European Commission – DG Joint Research Centre (IT)

The Packaging Matrix
M. Avella, Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Polymers - CNR (IT)

Nanomaterials used in packaging applications
Y. Wyser, Nestlé (CH)

Nanotechnology Applications for Food Packaging
Q. Chaudhry, The Food and Environment Research Agency (UK)

Characterisations of Nanomaterials under the Special Aspect of Migration from Packaging Materials into Food
J. Weiss, University of Hohenheim (DE)

Nanoparticle Migration and Packaging Lifecycle
Q. Chaudhry, The Food and Environment Research Agency (UK)

Implications for risk assessment
M. Rennen, TNO Quality of Life (NL)

Nanomaterials in food contact materials: EU regulatory issues
A. Schäfer, European Commission – DG Joint Research Centre (BE)

US FDAs Regulatory approach to nanotechnology in food contact substances
M. Adams, US Food and Drug Administration (US)

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