Engineered nanomaterials (Enms), ranging in size generally between 1 and 100 nm, exhibit new properties, also called quantum effects, not demonstrated by identical substances larger in size. Nanotechnologies may involve encapsulation, in scale from 0.1 nm to 1 micron (1000 nm), or the micro dispersion with molecular scale ranging from 1 to 10 angstroms (0.01 to 0.1 nm). The nano encapsulation system can be liquid-liquid, solid-liquid, and solid-solid.

Major benefits of nanotechnology for food ingredients are:

  • • An increase in surface area may lead to improvement bioavailability of flavors and food ingredients. This is especially important for flavor ingredients that have low solubility and/or low flavor and odor-detection thresholds.
  • • Solubility of low water-soluble ingredients is improved.
  • • Optically transparent ingredients.
  • • Higher ingredient preservation occurs during processing.
  • • Closer to true molecular solution.
  • • Homogeneity in system properties such as density.
  • • Higher-activity levels of encapsulated ingredient, such as antimicrobials.

The introduction of nanotechnology in the agrifood sector has opened the door to a wide range of applications in the foodstuffs, with many benefits such as improvement of color, taste or consistency, improvement of bioavailability of nutrients and dietary supplements and mask of unpleasant flavors. Examples of different (future) applications in the agri/feed/food sector are (EFSA supporting publication 2014:EN-621) follow.

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