Consumers’ awareness of their purchasing decisions is increasing. They opt for high-quality, durable products, but at the same time they avoid from unnecessary flavor enhancers or preservatives. Food manufacturers therefore face a considerable challenge to deliver products that meet buyers’ expectations. Can nanotechnology help them do so?
Nanotechnology – What Exactly Is It?
Nanotechnology is a science that deals with the creation of nanometer-sized structures, that is, structures at the level of atoms and molecules. Its history dates back to the 1950s, but it was not distinguished as a separate field until the 1980s. Nanotechnology plays a very important role in various sectors, including medicine, transportation, electronics, materials production and the food industry.
Nanotechnology in Food Production
Nanotechnology solutions have great potential to revolutionize many industries, and food production is one of them. They will work well at virtually all stages of the supply chain. Nanoparticles can be used for, among other things:
- Antibacterial protection
Nanoparticles penetrate cell membranes, so they can have antibacterial properties. An example of such a nanoparticle is nanosilver, which kills bacteria. It is used above all in the food industry to clean surfaces that come into contact with food.
- Increase the flow capacity of dry powders
Powdered products are not always completely dried and free-flowing, and therefore tend to clump and settle in processing machinery or silos at various stages of the supply chain. Getting rid of these deposits can be done in the traditional mechanical way, but there is another solution to prevent this from happening. That solution is the use of silicon nanoparticles and titanium dioxide to prevent powders from sticking together.
- Production of food packaging
Nanotechnology makes it possible to produce packaging that is environmentally friendly and, on top of that, can extend the shelf life of food by providing much more effective protection against microorganisms. In addition, nano-packaging can be smart, i.e. contain nano-sensors. With these, the box can signal, for example by a color change, that the product is already spoiled and unfit for consumption.
These are not all the possibilities for applying nanotechnology in food production. With the help of selecting the right nanoparticles, it is also possible to improve the taste of food, increase its shelf life, and monitor the conditions under which it is stored or produced.
Alternative Ways to Monitor Parameters
The use of nanotechnology to monitor parameters such as temperature or humidity is a solution that is only on the road of development. Many entrepreneurs are opting for alternative solutions for this reason.
– One such solution is technology based on data monitoring via NFC. It can be used at various stages of the supply chain. The ability to react instantly to temperature fluctuations is crucial in food production, in order to preserve its highest quality and freshness. The loggers collect data in real time, and in the event of significant parameter deviations, they inform the operator, via a compatible app. – says Jérémy Laurens, CEO of Blulog, a provider of state-of-the-art temperature monitoring solutions.
Nanotechnology in the food industry has attracted the interest of both businesses and consumers for good reason. One thing is certain – it certainly has a lot to offer this field, so it is worth developing knowledge in this area and looking for solutions tailored for the company.
An opportunity to get acquainted with the aforementioned technologies is the upcoming technology fairs SIDO Lyon (September 14-15) and IoT Tech Expo Euro Amsterdam (September 20-21).