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Eureka research network develops edible packaging

European Union research network Eureka is developing edible film packaging to prevent mixed pre-cut vegetables from sweating and losing their freshness. Eureka’s researchers from the Euroagri-Greentec project say a key aim is reducing packaging waste, by providing wrappings consumers can eat. José Burnay from project coordinator Campotec, a Portuguese food producer, said: “We are looking at edible wrappings, combined with new techniques for processing under modified atmospheres. The goal is reduced browning and extended shelf life for mixed pre-cut vegetables,” which lack preservatives to impede decay. The project is developing edible wrappings for onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips, cabbage and lettuce. E: jose.burnay@campotec.pt

EFSA launches nanotech probe amidst growing environmental health fears

The European Commission has told the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to investigate the risks of using nanotechnology in food packaging and food amidst growing concern about potential health risks. Concerns were raised earlier this year by the EU’s scientific committee on emerging and newly identified health risks, which warned current risk assessment systems for chemicals were not appropriate for nanoparticles. Writing to EFSA, the Commission said their “small size…potentially reduces the effectiveness of barriers to the penetration of foreign objects into the body and their movement within it”. EFSA’s analysis would help Brussels “explore appropriate measures, assess existing legislation and determine future requests for scientific opinions”.

Study detects link between aerosol cleaners and asthma

A major international study has detected a direct link between cleaning products delivered through aerosols and asthma or other respiratory problems in adults. Spain’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology and Municipal Institute of Medical Research coordinated research institutes in Britain, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden and Canada to assess 3,503 men and women aged 20-44 with no previous asthma problems who were told to use cleaning product aerosols regularly. A European Commission note said: “Researchers logged report after report from subjects complaining breathing problems”. It added that, although an aerosols and asthma link “seems clear”, more research is needed into how “the condition is triggered.”