Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Though there are vociferous opposition to wide scale use of nano technology by the food industry, new developments point to a more practical role for this frontier technology in many food processing operations. There is no unequivocal answer still to the question of safety of nano particles in human body and unless scientifically proved safe, its use may be restricted. There are allegations that big scale players have invested heavily in development and use of nano technology but their activities appear to be shrouded in secrecy. The latest finding that emulsions made using nano technology are much superior to conventionally prepared emulsions appears to be stirring interest amongst many food processors manufacturing products based on fat and aqueous components.

"Nano-emulsions being increasing used in the food and beverage industries because of their valuable properties, including high encapsulation efficiency, increased bio-availability, and a high physical stability. The authors noted that one major potential advantage of nano-emulsions over conventional emulsions "is that they can be made to be optically transparent, by preparing droplets with dimensions much smaller than the wavelength of light… so that [light] scattering is relatively weak. "Consequently, they can be used to incorporate non-polar functional components into transparent … food and beverage products," they added".

It may be recalled that clear and transparent products were a craze a few years ago and use of enzymes like pectinase to obtain clarified/sparkling juice is still being practiced. The emerging role of dietary fiber reversed this trend with consumers yearning for cloudy juice with suspended solids to get the benefit of fruit fibers. Probably one can think of a full fruit juice with out appearing to be cloudy using nano technology. How far consumers would accept such changes is not certain. Can one think of a clear looking salad dressings or transparent chocolate syrup or a clear milk? One of the most critical concerns is the behavior of nano particles in the GI track and the effect of absorption dynamics. Probably those ingredients which are normally not absorbed may find entry into the blood stream because of the extremely small particle size and the consequences there from cannot be predicted.


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