The food industry is a major water consuming sector, namely the vegetable processing, dairy, meat and the seafood sectors. About 70% of the water consumption in these sectors is for cleaning and decontamination processes. The strategic importance of environmental technologies and the necessity of preventing water pollution and promoting sustainable water use has been highlighted in many regulatory frameworks of the EC.
There is a need to introduce novel disinfection processes not only water treatment but also for the protection of surfaces such as membranes and packaging materials, which are able to provide reliable microbial control while avoiding harmful disinfection byproducts (DBP) formed by conventional disinfection techniques. On the other hand, some pathogens are refractory to conventional chemical disinfectants at practical dosages. Research is needed including nanotechnology solutions in water treatment schemes, in particular in connection with membrane operations, so they can replace conventional disinfection methods.
Also polymer nanomaterials for food packaging (PNFP) applications constitute a strategic field because of potential innovative applications. One important function of food packaging is to prevent food deterioration, extending shelf-life, and to maintain and increase the quality and safety of the packaged foods. Polymer packaging provides many properties including strength and stiffness, barrier to oxygen and moisture, resistance to food component attack and flexibility. Novel and efficient PNFP can provide innovative solutions to increase the performance of the polymers further adding safety, economical and environmental advantages.
CEREAL proposes solution for the reduction of inputs in the process chain of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables while achieving high standards for chemical and microbiological safety. The project redefines key concepts concerning resource efficiency by reducing the use of water and energy and the amount of wastes generated during the whole food chain.