Food safety has become a major issue worldwide. Therefore researchers from Iowa State University are embarking on a study to analyze if silver nanoparticles can be used to improve the safety of food supplies all over the world.
Byron Brehm-Stecher an associate professor in food science and human nutrition and Heidi Weinkauf, a graduate student in food science and human nutrition, are studying silver nanoparticles' potential for improving food safety.
The aim of this study is to develop food-related applications such as microbe-resistant fabrics or non-biofouling surfaces.
"Through our work, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how these materials affect microbial structure or function," said Brehm-Stecher.
"This may lead to new approaches for killing foodborne pathogens and enhancing food safety. For example, silver nanoparticles are already being used in food packaging to soak up the plant-ripening hormone ethylene, extending the shelf life of fruits," he added.
Brehm-Stecher seeks to understand the modus operandi of how silver nanoparticles exert their antimicrobial activities by testing QSI-Nano(r) Silver for its ability to interact with microbial cells.
QSI-Nano(r) Silver is prepared from pure metallic silver that is vaporized in the presence of an inert gas, then condensed under controlled conditions to form discrete particles smaller than 100 nanometers in diameter.
"One of the things we do in my lab is to develop multi-ingredient antimicrobial mixtures. I was interested in finding antimicrobials that would be physically compatible with other compounds that we're working with," said Brehm-Stecher.
"It looked like the nanoparticles could provide us with a good solution. I approached QuantumSphere and they were open to sending us compounds and working with us. We're interested in many of the same things. It's a good relationship.
"The results so far have met and surpassed our expectations, and we're only a couple of months into the grant. Every experiment, whether it turns out as expected or not, points us in a new direction and we are now getting some fascinating clues about how nanosilver works as an antimicrobial," he added.