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    Pondering the Possibilities of Nanotechnology for Food

    What if we could target food at the molecular level?

    A report on phys.org takes a look at asking the question: “So what if we could target food at the molecular level, sending in specially designed particles to control reactions even more tightly?”

    Nanotechnology creates and uses materials and particles at the scale of a nanometer, one billionth of a meter. To put in perspective, say a nanoparticle was the size of a football – in comparison that would mean a sheep would be the size of Planet Earth.

    What does this have to do with food?

    A phys.org report takes a look at asking the question: “What if we could target food at the molecular level, sending in specially designed particles to control reactions even more tightly?”

    For example, food that tastes salty without the health risks of adding salt, or bread that contains healthy fish oil but without any fishy aftertaste.

    They point out that every bite of food we eat is jam-packed with chemical reactions and nanotechnology is the solution to controlling – or changing – them.

    Israeli scientists found that coating packaging paper with nano-sized silver particles combats bacteria such as E. coli and extends product shelf life. Fish oil particles are packed into a film coating that prevents the fish oil from reacting with oxygen and releasing its smell. The nanocapsules break open only when they reach the stomach so you can receive the health benefits of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids without experiencing the odor.

    Researchers at Nottingham University claim they can reduce the salt content of standard crackers by 90 percent while keeping the same flavor by using nanoscale salt.

    So why hasn’t this technology become pervasive? There is a concern whether ingested nanomaterials migrate to different parts of the body and could accumulate in certain organs, such as liver and kidneys, which could affect the functionality of these organs and which could further make the battle over GMOs look like an air hockey match.

    The researchers also found that consumers are more likely to accept nanotechnology when it is used in food packaging rather than in food processing. They also pointed out that nanotechnology in food production was seen as more acceptable if it increased the food’s health benefits, although consumers weren’t necessarily willing to pay more for the benefits.

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