UK-based Leatherhead Food International (LFI) has formed a focus group to foster industry-government communication about the use of nanotechnology in foods, beverages and “pharmafoods”.
In conjunction with the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN), LFI hopes the focus group will raise awareness about nanofoods among industry and facilitate communication between industry and British government’s Technology Strategy Board.
Members of the focus group will have access to “pre-competitive research under the auspices of EU and/or Technology Strategy Board programmes”.
Nanotechnology refers to the control of matter at an atomic or molecular scale of between one and 100 nanometres (nm) - that's one millionth of a millimetre.
Its potential benefits include boosted nutrient levels and functionality, quality, structure and texture control and safety.
LFI said Nanotechnology already exists naturally in foods, with meat being an example.
"Meat is naturally composed of nanofibres," said LFI project leader, Kathy Groves. "These nanofibres undergo changes during cooking or processing, which in turn influence the texture and eating quality. For manufacturers to deliver a successful vegetarian alternative that gives the taste and texture of meat, they need to understand and control the assembly of structures at the nanolevel."
The One area LFI was investigating was nanoemulsions which have the potential to extend stability, and reduce the quantity of emulsions required. Fat reduction was another key focus area.
LFI was looking to extend its research into hydrocolloids, polysaccharides and proteins. "Real benefits from structuring these ingredients at the nano level would be obtained," observed Groves.
According to Helmut Kaiser Consultancy, the nanofood market has increased from a value of about €2bn in 2003 to €4.18bn in 2005 - and it is expected to soar to €15.79bn in 2015.