CHAPTER 12: Nanotechnologies in Food: The Knowns, Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns
Published:17 May 2017
This concluding chapter draws upon the discussions presented in the preceding chapters on different aspects of nanotechnology applications for food. It looks at the various issues emanating from technology derived materials, products, and applications and analyses objectively the current knowledge gaps and potential benefits, risks, and regulation. It concludes that the application of nanotechnologies could bring a number of subtle, but far-reaching, new developments to the whole food sector and benefits to the consumer in the form of innovative, healthy, and tasteful food products. It also stresses that a distinction needs to be made between ‘soft’ (soluble, degradable) and ‘hard’ (insoluble, persistent) nanomaterials. It argues that although applications using hard nanomaterials need detailed case by case safety evaluations, the use of soft food nanostructures does not require extensive safety testing. The chapter also wraps up the discussion on consumer attitudes towards new technologies in food and discusses how some of the nanotechnology applications are likely to be viewed by consumers. Drawing on the assessment of regulatory frameworks, the chapter presents suggestions for a way forward. It emphasizes that many of the new developments may be regulated through the food industry’s own best practices and self-regulation and that there is a need for public engagement to build confidence, trust, and acceptance of the new technological developments.