Nanotechnology making headway in the food industry

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — Three review articles on the topic of nanotechnology were recently published by the Institute of Food Technologists in the Journal of Food Science. Nanotechnology is the science of controlling material structures with dimensions of 100 nanometers or smaller.

I.F.T. states this new science may revolutionize agricultural and food systems and has the potential to impact the science of food in a positive way. It could generate new innovations in food texture, taste, processability and stability during shelf life. To foster the positive growth of nanotechnology, I.F.T. focused several educational sessions on nanotechnology at its 2009 annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

The following review articles focus on nanotechnology and the future of foods:

  • Nanocomposites in food packaging — Researchers from the University of Illinois discuss the challenges of using nanotechnology to create low-cost packaging that assists in functionality, weight and ease of processing. Nanotechnology could provide better barriers against compounds that impact the shelf life of fresh and processed foods, researchers said.
  • Design of nano-laminated coatings to control bioavailability of lipophilic food components — A researcher from the University of Massachusetts reviews the impact of nano-laminated coatings on the bioavailability of encapsulated lipids. Bioactive lipophilic, or fat-liking compounds, could be incorporated into foods or beverages, which may increase the ingredient’s stability, palatability, desirability and bioactivity. These coatings could play a role in nutrient release within the human gastrointestinal tract.
  • Bioavailability and delivery of nutraceuticals using nanotechnology — Researchers from Rutgers University examine the applications of nanotechnology in food and nutrition for the design and development of new functional food ingredients. The researchers discuss the encapsulation and controlled release of active food ingredients using nanotechnological approaches in great detail. Researchers continue to investigate the improved water solubility, oral bioavailability and biological efficacies of nano-encapsulated nutraceuticals.

To receive copies of these studies, contact Jeannie Houchins at
jhouchins@ift.org.

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