How is Nanotechnology being used in Food Science?
Nanotechnology is having an impact on several
aspects of food science, from how food is grown to how it is packaged.
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 that food delivers.
Food Science: Current Nanotechnology Applications
are being used to provide an impermeable barrier to gasses such as oxygen or carbon
dioxide in lightweight bottles, cartons and packaging films.
Storage bins are
being produced with
nanoparticles embedded in the plastic. The silver nanoparticles kill
bacteria from any material that was previously stored in the bins, minimizing
health risks from harmful
Food Science: Nanotechnology Applications under Development
Researchers at the Technische Universität München
have demonstrated a method of
spraying carbon nanotubes onto flexible plastic surfaces to produce
sensors. The researchers believe that this method could produce low cost
sensors on surfaces such as the plastic film wrapping food, so that the
sensor could detect spoiled food.
Researchers are using
nanoparticles to provide a barrier to gasses (for example oxygen), or
moisture in a plastic film used for packaging. This could reduce the possibly of
food spoiling or drying out.
Zinc oxide nanoparticles can be incorporated into plastic packaging to
block UV rays and provide anti bacterial protection, while improving the strength and
stability of the plastic film.
Nanosensors are being developed that can
detect bacteria and other contaminates, such as salmonella, at a packaging plant. This will allow for frequent
testing at a much lower cost than sending samples to a lab for
point-of-packaging testing, if conducted properly, has
the potential to dramatically reduce the chance of contaminated food
reaching grocery store shelves.
Research is also being conducted to develop
nanocapsules containing nutrients that would be released when
nanosensors detect a vitamin deficiency in your body. Basically this research
could result in a super vitamin storage system in your body that
delivers the nutrients you need, when you need them.
are being developed that would allow you to choose the desired
flavor and color. Nanocapsules that contain flavor or color enhancers are embedded in the
food; inert until a hungry consumer triggers them. The method
hasn't been published, so it will be interesting to see how this
particular trick is accomplished.
also working on pesticides encapsulated in nanoparticles; that only
release pesticide within an insect's stomach, minimizing the contamination of
Another development being persued is a network of nanosensors and
dispensers used throughout a farm field. The sensors recognize when a
plant needs nutrients or water, before there is any sign that the plant
is deficient. The dispensers then release fertilizer, nutrients, or
water as needed, optimizing the growth of each plant in the field one by
Food Science and
Nanotechnology: Major Reports
Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Production (Project on
Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food (Nanoforum)
Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture (Friends of the Earth)
Nanotechnology Company Directory
||Bottles, cartons and films containing
clay nanocomposite that act as a barrier to the passage of gasses or odors
||Rapid testing for contaminates in food
||Nanocomposite coatings for transparent plastic films used in food
packaging that provides a barrier to oxygen or moisture
Note that many other companies are researching the application of nanotechnology in the food industry but do not have nanotechnology
sections on their websites.
Food Science and
Organizations Exploring the Regulatory Impact
Regulatory Review report
from UK Food Safety Authority
Task Force formed by the United States Food and Drug Administration
to address any knowledge or policy gaps related to the use of
Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and
UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on