Nanotechnology

As an industry which places innovation at the forefront, FoodDrinkEurope and its members are interested in science-based research and development, including the application of nanotechnologies and their potential in food production. Nanotechnology in the food industry is at an early stage and, in the future, it could be used to deliver new food products and improve existing ones. It also has potential in processing and packaging, bringing benefits to consumers and industry. Safety comes first and the use of these new technologies will always be based on scientific research, regulatory compliance and consumer acceptance.

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the manufacture of materials and structures at the nanometre scale (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre). There is a need to distinguish between the natural occurrence of nanoparticles (such as in protein, fat or carbohydrates), their presence through conventional processing techniques (such as milling, homogenising and emulsifying) and where particle size has been deliberately engineered to behave differently to its conventional counterpart. While nanoparticles can occur naturally, where engineered nanoparticles which introduce new properties are used, their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

 

The European Technology Platform (ETP) Food for Life’s Strategic Research Agenda indicates nanotechnologies’ potential uses in the food and drink industry: From 2015 to 2020, nanotechnologies could be used improve products, processes and packaging, for example, nanoparticles could be used to provide a barrier to oxygen in a plastic packaging (reducing the possibility of food spoiling) or nanosensors could be developed to detect bacteria (reducing the risk of contamination).