Nanotechnology benefits: public needs reassurance

Nanotechnology offers great potential to the food and drink industry, said Steffi Friedrichs

Nanotechnology offers great potential for use in the food and drink supply chain, but the publics food safety concerns still need to be overcome, according to the head of the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA).

Speaking at a seminar earlier this year, Dr Steffi Friedrichs, director general of the NIA, said nanotechnology offered many benefits in terms of reduced consumption of precious raw materials and resources such as water and fertilisers.

She also said nanotechnology had a good safety record. “In 15 years of scientists’ committees and toxicologists looking into that, they have not found a single effect that is induced by a nanomaterial that would not be induced by any other chemical we are not creating something that we didn’t create before, we are just making it smaller.”

However, she conceded the need to investigate the bioavailability of such small particles which, as they travel through the body, “might accumulate somewhere”.

Need more guidance

But she argued their toxicological effect would be no different from non-nanomaterials of the same composition. “What we do need to give toxicologists is more guidance on how to prepare their tests and assays with nanomaterials as opposed to soluble chemicals.”

On the positive side, nanotechnology could assist with energy reduction in manufacturing processes and transport, while also reducing the environmental impact of processes, said Friedrichs. Nanotechnology could even help to remove toxic substances that sometimes have to be used in industrial processes and to make better safety sensors for food monitoring, she added.

Nanotechnology was already being used to raise fuel efficiencies in transport fleets, she noted. And by using it in packaging, the shelf-life of foods could be extended, reducing waste.

Meanwhile, when used in membranes, it could help to filter dirty water to provide safer drinking water in the developing world.

'Enhanced effect'

“Nanotechnology, if anything, is one of those things where you can get away with using much, much less for a much enhanced effect.”

Friedrichs also spoke about its use in salt manufacture to enhance saltiness by increasing the surface area of salt particles. This has helped to reduce the amount consumed by up to 70%, with associated health benefits, she said. Such processes were developed by a company called Eminate, a spin-off from the University of Nottingham.

In May 2013, ingredients specialist Tate & Lyle signed a licence with Eminate to market this microsphere technology designed to reduce sodium bicarbonate in baked goods.

The agreement followed a deal signed between the two companies in 2011, giving Tate & Lyle exclusive rights to the Soda-Lo salt microsphere technology. 

Related News

Experts have slammed a moratorium blocking proposals simplify the authorisation procedure for nanotechnology

MEPs block plans to ease nanotech approvals

Synthetic biology risks could come from error or terror, warns WEF

Synthetic bio is risk as well as an opportunity

Barry Park is promoting nanotechnology

Nanotechnology helps food manufacturers make healthier food

More effective communication is the key to winning public acceptance for nanotechnology

Communication key to nanotech’s future in food & drink

Nanotechnology The shelf-life of food and drink products may be longer in future

Nano-based technology to lengthen shelf-life

Comments (2)

Tom - 11 Jul 2014 | 11:26


to generalize that the toxicological effects of nanomaterials are not different than bulk counterparts is incorrect as there are studies showing evidence of differences in toxicity (possibly due to size, surface area, reactivity etc). not that they are necessarily unsafe - we just need ensure they are safe for the intended uses.

11-Jul-2014 at 23:26 GMT

A Bose - 10 Jul 2014 | 07:51

application of nano

Pls check to know details

10-Jul-2014 at 19:51 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.