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NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

Preface Nanosciences and

Preface Nanosciences and nanotechnologies are highly promising and rapidly progressing disciplines in research and industrial innovation. The term “nano” refers to the measurement of size; a nanometre (nm) is a millionth of a millimetre. By way of illustration, a nanometre is about 1/50,000 th the width of a human hair, and a sheet of normal office paper is about 100,000 nm thick. A nanoparticle (NP) is usually considered to be a structure between 0.1 and 100 nm (1/1,000,000 mm). The potential benefits of nanotechnology have been recognized by many industrial sectors, and products based on nanotechnology or products containing NPs are already manufactured such as in the field of microelectronics, consumer products (e.g. personal care products, paints, automotive industry) and the pharmaceutical industry. Also with respect to food and agriculture, a number of promising applications are emerging, such as smart packaging, nanosensors for pathogen detection or registration of storage conditions, nanoformulations of agrochemicals, nano-encapsulation / nanodelivery of food ingredients, etc. Besides engineered or manufactured NPs, nano-sized particles occur naturally in many foodstuffs. For example, food proteins are globular structures between 10-100 nm (e.g. casein micelles in dairy products range from 300-400 nm) and most polysaccharides and lipids are linear polymers of 2 nm in thickness. Fat globules can be considered as natural NPs as well, ranging in size from 100 nm to 20 μm, whereas fat globule membranes have a thickness of 4–25 nm. The homogenization of fat globules can be considered as a sort of “nanotechnology process” decreasing the average diameter and increasing the number and surface area of the fat globules. Additionally, stabilized foams/emulsions are two dimensional nanostructures, one molecule thick at the air/water or oil/water interface and three dimensional nanostructures are formed when food biopolymers assemble into fibrous networks. Although nanotechnology or NPs have the potential to bring significant benefits to both the industry and consumers, they may also introduce potential risks for human health and the environment. Due to their small size, surface reactivity and translocation possibility across biological membranes as well as potential

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