Nanotechnologies have a wide range of potential food applications. Possibilities range from enhancing the flavour, texture and nutritional quality of processed foods, to the use of sensors to monitor food safety. However, there are significant questions about how risks should be assessed and regulated; how nano ingredients should be labelled; how open the food industry should be about its development of nanomaterials; and the role of public dialogue about whether these promised benefits are needed and the relative value of alternative approaches.
Along with the promise of technological benefits come questions about safety, desirability and unintended consequences. The European Union has addressed some of these questions during 2011.
However, some significant questions remain, such as:
We very much hope that this debate about the potential applications of nanotechnologies for food will raise questions about the appropriate regulation and support for this technology. In particular, we hope that this debate will generate research questions to help clarify what steps are needed in order to ensure food technologies are developed and applied in the public interest.
There is a wide array of potential applications of nanotechnology in the food industry. These applications range from using nano-sized particles to reduce fat content without losing taste, to nano-sensors for continuously monitoring food to detect presence of dangerous bacteria or other contamination. You can find more examples in the UK Food Standard Agency’s Bite magazine.