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April 26th, 2007

The promises of food nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has begun to find potential applications in the area of functional food by engineering biological molecules toward functions very different from those they have in nature, opening up a whole new area of research and development. Of course, there seems to be no limit to what food technologists are prepared to do to our food (read this delightful romp through the food processing industry to get the idea: "Twinkie, Deconstructed". For the non-U.S. reader: a Twinkie is a processed foodlike substance that has reached iconic status in this country) and nanotechnology will give them a whole new set of tools to go to new extremes. We have taken a critical view of food nanotechnology before in this column and in our news coverage, just take a look at "Nanotechnology food coming to a fridge near you" or "Are you ready for your nano-engineered wine? ". Today, though, we look at the potentially beneficial effects nanotechnology-enabled innovations could have on our foods and, subsequently, on our health.

According to a definition in a recent report ("Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food"), food is nanofood when nanoparticles, nanotechnology techniques or tools are used during cultivation, production, processing, or packaging of the food. It does not mean atomically modified food or food produced by nanomachines.


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