Nanotechnology as a Processing and Packaging Tool to Improve Meat Quality and Safety
Nanoparticles are gaining momentum as a smart tool towards a safer, more cost-effective and sustainable food chain. This study aimed to provide an overview of the potential uses, preparation, properties, and applications of nanoparticles to process and preserve fresh meat and processed meat products. Nanoparticles can be used to reinforce the packaging material resulting in the improvement of sensory, functional, and nutritional aspects of meat and processed meat products. Further, these particles can be used in smart packaging as biosensors to extend the shelf-life of fresh and processed meat products and also to monitor the final quality of these products during the storage period. Nanoparticles are included in product formulation as carriers of health-beneficial and/or functional ingredients. They showed great efficiency in encapsulating bioactive ingredients and preserving their properties to ensure their functionality (e.g., antioxidant and antimicrobial) in meat products. As a result, nanoparticles can efficiently contribute to ensuring product safety and quality whilst reducing wastage and costs. Nevertheless, a wider implementation of nanotechnology in meat industry is highly related to its economic value, consumers’ acceptance, and the regulatory framework. Being a novel technology, concerns over the toxicity of nanoparticles are still controversial and therefore efficient analytical tools are deemed crucial for the identification and quantification of nanocomponents in meat products. Thus, migration studies about nanoparticles from the packaging into meat and meat products are still a concern as it has implications for human health associated with their toxicity. Moreover, focused economic evaluations for implementing nanoparticles in meat packaging are crucial since the current literature is still scarce and targeted studies are needed before further industrial applications.