Risk Assessment and Traceability


Migration and Human Exposure Assessment of Engineered Nanomaterials for Food Packaging Applications.

Researcher: Joseph Hannon

Food packaging materials containing small particles known as nanoparticles possessing antibacterial ability have the potential to improve food safety while reducing food waste by extending food shelf life.

Nanoparticles are particles thousands of times smaller than a human hair that possess improved properties. However, as a consequence of their smaller size it is possible that they may have the ability to pass through natural barriers in the human digestive system, accumulate and cause toxicity.

The aim of my research is to investigate the release of engineered nanoparticles from experimental antibacterial food packaging coatings containing engineered nanoparticles and assess the subsequent human exposure.

The safety of these packaging coatings is assessed by assessing the potential release of these nanoparticles from the experimental coatings into food, so that they can be compared to doses of the same nanoparticles known to cause unwanted health effects. For the benefits of these novel antimicrobial food packaging materials to be fully experienced in the future, extensive safety assessments such as the ones previously mentioned are vital. 

Tracking and assessing the Risk from Antibiotic Resistant genes using Chip technology in surface water Ecosystems (TRACE)

Researcher: Eithne O’Flaherty

An estimated 700,000 deaths are caused annually by antibiotic resistant infections worldwide. It is estimated that 10 million people could be dying annually from antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) by 2050 worldwide.

The overall goal of the TRACE project is to develop an on-site detection technology in a chip-based solution to detect a panel of antibiotic resistant genes for waterborne microorganisms, allowing time and cost efficient evaluation of antibiotic resistant patterns and the associated risk to human health.

TRACE project partners involved are the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Germany, Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, Food GmbH Jena Analytik in Germany, Catalan Institute for Water Research in Spain, Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal and the University College Dublin.

My research as part of the TRACE project is to evaluate the risk to human health from the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) in surface water ecosystems.

I will develop a risk assessment model to explore the risk to human health from ARB through surface water routes such as recreational water, drinking water and irrigation practices. The Irish component of the TRACE project is funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and the Water JPI programme.