Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nano Bites

Your dinner will be assimilated:
Nano additives can enhance or prevent the absorption of certain nutrients. In an email interview with Popular Mechanics, Jonathan Brown, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, says this method could be used to make mayonnaise less fattening by replacing fat molecules with water droplets.

Nanotech also keeps food fresher over a longer period. Brown says the nanopackaging industry is actually larger than its nanofood counterpart, and has three main focuses: barriers, antimicrobials, and sensors. Ideally, the packaging would provide protection from moisture, bacteria, and pathogens. There is also a type of packaging that would involve what Brown calls oxygen scavenging, which means that the packaging would absorb oxygen before it reaches food. Other techniques have involved coating packaging with nano silver particles to make them antimicrobial, using polypropylene and or polyethylene barriers to inhibit moisture, and even embedding packages with silicon-based nanoparticles that can detect pathogens. These are currently being tested, but Brown says that the experimental food packaging has been successful in lab settings.

But even though this seems like the best way to ease nanotech into the food industry, concerns exist. "The main concern is that nanomaterials in the package would migrate from the package to the food," Brown says. "Some studies have demonstrated that certain nanomaterial packages are indeed stable, and no migration of nanomaterials was seen."
Borg burgers, anyone?

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