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Nanotechnology in Food Products: Workshop Summary
what nanotechnologies can offer to the food industry and where benefits for consumers can be derived from these technologies.”
The third presenter, Jochen Weiss of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, provided an overview of how nanotechnologies are being developed to add novel functionalities to food products. He described several different nanomaterials currently being explored for their potential applications in food products, including microemulsions, liposomes, solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs), and nanofibers. He also described some of the research that he and his colleagues have been conducting with each of these types of materials, emphasizing the variety of ways one can build nanostructured materials with potent, long-lasting antimicrobial capacities. In fact, scientists are beginning to construct all sorts of different types of microscopic structures with varying functionalities (not just antimicrobial capacities) using nanomaterials as their building blocks. What scientists don’t fully understand yet, however, is how these structures will function once inside actual food systems.
The session ended with a 20-minute question and answer period, with most of the discussion revolving around the commercial availability of these various applications and products, the definition and history of nanotechnology, and regulatory uncertainty. The last topic—regulatory uncertainty—would re-emerge in later sessions as a major overarching theme of the workshop dialogue. There was also some discussion on the issue of palatability and nutrient delivery and whether nanotechnology offers any solutions.
APPLICATIONS OF NANOSCIENCES TONUTRIENTS AND FOODS1
Aguilera began with some introductory remarks about his work as a food microstructure engineer and how, in the past, the focus of his research was on larger food structures (i.e., “micron-size”). Now, he is trying to extrapolate what he has learned about the structure of foods at that micro-level to a smaller scale. He provided a brief outline of his presentation, with a reminder that “we already have a lot of nanotech in
This section is a paraphrased summary of Jose Miguel Aguilera’s presentation.
José Miguel Aguilera, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.