Seven years have elapsed since the first edition of this book was written and published. The rapid advances in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology meant that an update was needed. However, although scientific and technical developments have indeed continued apace, it is fair to say that the pace of new product development and commercialization has not met the heady targets and projections made by some. Without doubt, the global financial crisis in 2007–2008, leading to a worldwide recession in 2008–2012, slowed economic growth in general and hit R&D budgets and marketing plans for new innovative food products in particular as businesses and consumers retrenched. Nonetheless, public and regulatory acceptance continue to be the main brakes on the commercialization of nano-enabled products in the food and related sectors.
The past projections of enormous benefits were matched by calls for a moratorium or outright ban on the technologies until they were proved to be safe for human health and for the environment. This was because the same distinctive chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials that make them so attractive for new product development also raised fears over their safety to consumers and the environment. These concerns have continued to be addressed in the intervening seven years and have been allayed for some, but not all, applications; more work is still needed.
As we said at the time of the first edition of this book, many nanosized materials have always been a part of our everyday life in the form of biological entities and processes that occur naturally at the nanoscale. Most of our food materials are either composed of nanostructures, or are broken down into nanostructures during digestion and absorption. There were, however, justified concerns over some nanomaterials being deliberately added to our food. The prospect of being exposed—through the consumption of food and drink—to free, insoluble and possibly biopersistent nanoparticles, which may have large reactive surfaces and which may have as-yet unknown biological effects in the body, was a legitimate worry. Such concerns, combined with the in-built scepticism of the general public towards any technologically derived food, led to calls for more knowledge and understanding before such applications could be endorsed by the authorities and accepted by the general public.
The update for the second edition of this book was a chance to take stock of what was known then and to review what has been achieved since. The book puts the various views into perspective and analyses the pros and cons of the new technologies in an objective and realistic manner. All the chapters have been substantially updated by world-leading experts in their respective fields. The subject areas covered include: definitions; public perceptions leading to acceptance/rejection; natural food nanostructures; delivering supplements; food packaging materials; analysis of—and for—nanomaterials in food; potential benefits and market drivers; an assessment of exposure; hazard and risk; and regulatory perspectives. There are three new chapters in this list. The new chapter on definitions describes how the regulatory definitions of a nanomaterial are shaping up in Europe and elsewhere and what impact this is having. The new chapter on the emerging field of nanodelivery systems for food ingredients and supplements discusses whether these delivery vehicles actually work and whether they raise any safety concerns for consumers. The last of the three new chapters discusses the analytical challenges in detecting, characterizing and quantifying nanomaterials in complex food matrices and surveys the analytical methods now being used or that are currently under development. All the other chapters include substantial new material and even, for some, new authors. We commend all the chapters to you.
The book aims to inform both non-specialist readers who are new to the ‘nano’ area and also specialist readers who want information and understanding from outside their immediate specialism. We believe that this book and, of course, the expert contributors to it, bring clarity to a number of issues on the new technologies and help to move the debate forward.