Nanotechnologies and Food
Picture source: Guardian nanotechnology-world
Nanotechnologies will have an impact on the food industry, from how food is grown, produced, and processed to how it is packaged, transported and consumed. Companies are developing nanomaterials that will make a difference not only in the taste of food, but also in food safety, and the health benefits food delivers.
Picture source: wikipedia
In the food industry nanotech is most likely to be found in dietary supplements.
The promise of nanotechnologies is that they could allow for re-engineering of ingredients by taking advantage of nanoparticles that can be absorbed more quickly by the body. This could bring healthy nutrients more efficiently to the body while allowing less-desirable components to pass through.
Picture source: wikipedia
Producers, retailers and society in general will all benefit from methods that eliminate prematurely throwing away good products due to expiry dates. One idea is to have embedded nanotechnology based sensors in sealed food or pharmaceutical packages that provide visible information on the status of the content, its freshness, or even on the status of the package, indicating if it has been kept at the appropriate temperature throughout the supply chain, or has been spoiled, etc.
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Nanotechnologies are also used in some food packaging and containers. In particular, nanosilver particles are used because of their antibacterial properties.
Some recent research has shown that some nanoparticles, like carbon nanoparticles, can be found in a variety of products that contain “food caramels”, which means things like bread, corn flakes, and biscuits. This shows that we have been already exposed to nanomaterials probably for a long time with no harm caused to humans. However, scientists are now considering other types of nanomaterials which might have effects that differ from the ones of “unintentional” nanoparticles produced during food processing, to which we are already exposed. In terms of regulation, in the EC, foodstuff containing engineered nanomaterials must indicate so in their list of ingredients, according to an EC regulation published in 2011 and which will come into force in 2014.
- nanopinion is an EC-funded project bringing together 17 partners from 11 countries with the aim of monitoring public opinion on what we hope from innovation with nanotechnologies. The project is aimed citizens with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who do not normally encounter and give their opinion nanotechnologies at first hand.
- Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats.
- To promote an informed debate, we also run a strong press & social media campaign and offer a repository with more than 150 resources.