The number of applications exploiting nanotech developments in the food sector is limited, but the products that could be available on the market in the medium or long term will potentially have relevant impacts on society. These include:
Smart packaging to improve food quality and safety and prolong shelf-life of fresh and processed products Benefits: positive environmental impacts thanks to lightweight and biodegradable materials and the reduction of food waste along the entire food chain Risks: nanoparticles migration and food contamination
Nano-filtering (using nano-membranes/nano-fibers) for beverage and drink filtration (e.g. water, beer, wine, oil), nano-ultra filtration in waste water management and cleaning processes Benefits: increased drinkable water availability, pollution reduction (e.g. in industrial processes of landfills) and water cycles closure
Novel ingredients/novel foods with specific functionalities, such as increasing the content of healthy substances (e.g. vitamins, carotene), changing specific properties (e.g. reducing allergy risks), enable targeted delivery/release of nutrients. Minimally processed food, reducing the processing of foods in the production, storage and distribution phases. Benefits: improved nutrition, reduced presence of additives and processing aids, improved food flavor, texture and appearance, make the product process more efficient Risks: reduced safety when changing industrial processes
Plant protection products for agricultural application to improve barriers on plants against microorganisms Benefits: reduction in the use of pesticides and improved plant nutrition products (e.g. fertilizers), efficacy
Creative ways to explore the developments in nano and food
The Responsible Nano Forum would like to explore directly with citizens some of the possible applications of technology, notably nanotechnology and biotechnology, in food and packaging and understand their views, preferences and concerns.
The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: Medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine and more. Our debate provoking products are both innovative as well as uncanny and disturbing. They function as scenarios for potential technological futures, helping us to decide what future we actually want.
European Technology Platform
Publication on food for tomorrow’s consumer; step-changing the innovation power and impact of the European food and drink industry to the benefit of a sustainable society.
Studies about Nano and food
Strawberries in a conventional food container (upper row) and nano-silver container (lower row). (Test series and pictures: The Innovation Society Ltd.)