Institute of Nanotechnology

Nano and Microtechnologies in the Food & HealthFood Industries
25th & 26th October, NH Grand Hotel Krasnopolsky, Amsterdam


Presentation Abstracts

Dr. Kees Eijkel, Nano4Vitality consortium

Nano4Vitality – an innovation factory for food and health products

There is a great need to increase the speed and efficiency of commercialization processes. Nanotechnology introduces new chances for innovation in the food and health industries at great speed, but these chances face a long and intensive path towards full commercialization. There is a lot of emphasis on fundamental and basic research at this time.  

Within the Nano4Vitality consortium, we have embraced the notion that nanotechnology offers intriguing opportunities at the shorter term. The commercialization of these opportunities needs a strong, product-driven approach, combining the entire value chain. Projects within Nano4Vitality encompass OEM’s, high-tech SME’s, integrators and scientists, into a strongly milestone-driven program, focused at finalizing the process towards product introduction.  

The combination of the food and health fields is based on the mutual value and interaction that these application areas have, both in their technology base and in the marketplace.  

Our contribution will show the processes to define and manage such value-chain projects, including two examples of running projects, underpinning the importance of the chosen approach.

Malcolm Povey Professor of Food Physics, University of Leeds

Techniques in the Characterization of Foods – an Overview’  

Foods are generally complex, heterogeneous systems, often containing high concentrations of naturally occurring nano-particles (proteins!). Production and characterisation of nano-particles in foods has hitherto been called ‘food colloid science’, so there is a wealth of experience in this area upon which nano-technology may draw upon. Ultrasound spectroscopy offers the best prospect for the characterisation of concentrated systems of nano-particles.  

Naturally occurring nanoparticles such as the self-assembling protein casein will be described and methods for characterising them explained. Ultrasound spectroscopy, dynamic and static light scattering techniques will be compared regarding their relative merits for the detection and characterisation of nanoparticles in food. The tendency for nano-particles to aggregate once dispersed in food systems will be discussed. Methods for determining the phase of the nano-particle (solid/liquid/gas) will also be covered with some attention given to the importance of nano-particles containing gas.

Qasim Chaudhry, Defra, Central Science Laboratory

Nanomaterials in food and food contact materials: regulatory and consumer safety implications

The rapid proliferation of nanotechnology in recent years has led to an ever-increasing application of nano-scale materials in a vast array of industrial and consumer products. This includes a range of foods and drinks, food supplements, and food contact materials. However, such widespread use of nanomaterials, that are largely untested in terms of effects on human health and the environment, has also led to a number of uncertainties and concerns.  

This overview presents an up-to-date account of the known applications of nanomaterials in foods and food contact materials. Projections have also been drawn on the future trends based on current R&D and industrial interests in relevant areas. Also, based on current knowledge, the potential hazards that might arise from the use of nanomaterials in foods and food contact materials to consumers, and regulatory implications, have been discussed.

Dr. Anna J. Tudos, Biochip Group (BPE) Universiteit Twente, Netherlands

 Regularly occurring food scares and several food scandals underline the importance of food analysis. Food analysis can be carried out as a quality assurance measure early in the processing chain as well as later to ensure food safety. Independent of the purpose of testing, requirements for (and stakes in) food analysis are high. Preferred techniques are non-destructive or in need of little sample material for representative results. Also, analysis must be fast and cheap, if possible suited for the determination of multiple components in one run. Automation of the measurement should be possible, sample preparation should be easy. Finally, the method of choice must be robust and reliable.

Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) has been gaining terrain in the area of food analysis recently. SPR is a label-free measurement technique, its merits have been demonstrated on the ‘conventional scale’ for various matrices and analytes, e.g. antibiotics in milk, added vitamins in baby formula, hormons in meat.

 Miniaturization in combination with SPR detection opens up the way to true multiplex analysis, to determine multiple (e.g. hundreds to eventually thousands) of components in one sample. The benefits are obvious: small sample sizes, one sample treatment per analysis with multiple components detected in parallel.

 In the presentation approaches and examples will be shown on microfabricated devices in combination with SPR for label-free determination of multiple components in complex matrices.


Frans Kampers – Director BioNT

Micro- and Nanotechnologies in Food from a Wageningen Perspective

From demographic trends like aging and increasing world population, combined with the development of welfare diseases like obesity which develops into health problems like diabetes, it has been recognized that in a few decades healthcare will become a large financial burden to industrialized societies. A solutions to this problem is to shift from curative healthcare (solve health problems) to preventive healthcare (prevent health problems from occurring or postpone them to a later age). Food is an important component of preventive healthcare and micro- and nanotechnology can contribute to that concept.

Micro- and nanotechnology will lead to sensors and diagnostic instruments with improved sensitivity and selectivity that will be able to monitor food processes and assure food quality. These new instruments will enable much faster measurements in or near production lines by non-expert personnel. But micro- and nanotechnology will also result in new concepts for food production processes. Examples are microsieves for separation and fractionation which can also improve emulsification processes and can result in new products like low-fat mayonnaise. Control of matter at the nanoscale will enable fine tuning of specific food characteristics like texture to the demands of specific target groups. The use of drug delivery concepts for nutrient delivery will improve the nutritional quality of food products. Nanotechnology can be used to improve packaging materials. Combined with printable electronics and low cost sensors information about the product and its quality will become readily available to consumers.

The GMO issue has shown that consumer perception is crucial for the acceptance of a new technology. Objective information on risks, e.g. of nanoparticles, and good communication to enable individual consumers to evaluate risks and benefits are essential for the confidence in the new technology.


Kjeld van Bommel, Biomade Technology Foundation

Supramolecular gels:novel materials for the formulation and delivery of nutraceuticals

Biomade has developed considerable expertise on low molecular weight gelators (LMWGs), small organic molecules that are capable of forming gels in aqueous media (hydrogels), in food oils, or in emulsions. Such gels of LMWGs are an attractive complement or even alternative for the polymer gels (e.g. gelatin) currently used in food and nutraceutical applications, as they possess properties generally not attainable by polymer gels. Gels have been developed that can release enclosed compounds according to a variety of release profiles, optionally as a result of the pH in specific parts of the GI tract. Depending on the choice of gelator system and formulation protocol, entrapment of a compound of interest in a LMWG hydrogel, either as (nano)particles or molecularly dispersed, can significantly improve the dissolution rates of poorly water-soluble compounds.



Mark Mansour

 "The Emerging Global Regulatory Framework for Nanotechnology " 

The developing regulatory framework for the regulation of nanomaterials is critical to the future of virtually every potential application of what is commonly referred to as 'nanotechnology.'  It is vital that the regulatory process be coherent, and avoid mistakes made in developing regulatory frameworks for recent innovations, such as agricultural biotechnology, to ensure the development of new uses, as well as public confidence.


 Robert S. Donofrio, NSF International, USA

 Rapid Safety Testing of Food Nanomaterials Using High Content Screening and Zebrafish Model

Nanotechnology related research and development projects are in progress in the areas of food processing, food engineering and food packaging. Though nanotechnology brings many potential benefits to food production, such as increased shelf life and pathogen resistance, its development must be guided by appropriate safety assessments and regulation to minimize risk. Currently, there is no framework in place to assess the toxicity of nanomaterials. This is a concern in both the US and Europe. Additionally, it will be essential to have validated, rapid tests in place to evaluate the potential toxicity of new nanomaterials.

 Two new emerging technologies for the toxicological assessment of nanomaterials in food applications are high content screening (HCS) and the zebrafish model. The HCS technique evaluates the biological effects of chemical substances in in vitro cell based assays using the ArrayScan HCS Reader (Cellomics, Inc.). The relatively short processing times of the 96 well plates, post incubation with nanomaterials, and quick scan times of these plates make HCS an ideal method for large scale screening of nanoparticles for cytotoxicity. Preliminary work was performed using two human cell lines to assess the potential cytotoxic effects of single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT), multi walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), and C60 fullerenes. The cellular targets of interest included the nuclei, mitrochondrial transmembrane potential, and cell membrane permeability. The Zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been a prominent model vertebrate in a variety of biological disciplines. It can provide valuable developmental toxicity information both in terms of endpoint identification and mechanism elucidation. Coupled with high content screening, it could provide valuable insight into the potential toxicity of nanomaterials. The developmental toxicity of SWCNT’s, MWCNT’s, and C60 fullerenes was assessed using a zebrafish toxicity model. The results of the HCS and zebrafish studies will be presented.

Vasco Teixeira, GRF-Functional Coatings Group, University of Minho, Portugal

Advanced Nanotechnology Thin Film Approaches for the Food and Medical Industry: an overview of current status

In the field of nanotechnology-based thin films and coatings, new approaches using nanoscale effects can be used to design, create or model nanocoating systems with significantly optimized or enhanced properties of high interest to the food, health and biomedical industry. With the development of nanotechnology in various areas of materials science the potential use of novel surfaces and more reliable materials by employing nanocomposite and nanostructured thin films in food packaging, security pharmaceutical labels, novel polymeric containers for food contact, medical surface instruments, bio-implants, and even coated nanoparticles for bionanotechnology can be considered.

The use of plastic containers in the food and beverage market has dramatically increased because they are lightweight, unbreakable, convenient, resealable and they may be clear. PET bottles have gradually replaced glass bottles and metal cans as the most common packaging for liquid foods, such as carbonated soft drinks, tea, water, soy sauce and edible oil. In this field of new packaging technologies, nanostructured architectures coatings such as nanocomposite films are given the unique role of enhancing food impact over the consumer’s health. For example, the unique properties of diamond like carbon (DLC) film, including its chemical inertness and impermeability, make it possible for new applications in food, beverage and medical market segments.

In this presentation it will be presented an overview of the nanotechnology approaches to produce nanostructured materials for food and health industry. Topics to be discussed include introduction to nanocoatings concepts (from functional nanocomposite and graded coatings to smart nanomaterial surfaces used in packaging and biomedical industry) produced by clean PVD technologies (Physical Vapour Deposition) and other deposition techniques. An overview of the current research, existing technological applications and future industrial materials and components will be highlighted.


Prof dr Cees Van Rijn, Aquamarijn Micro Filtration BV

Techniques for Food Products - This lecture will deal with nano and micro-engineering techniques for microfiltration and nanosensing applications.

 Micro filtration of beverages with microsieves

With microengineering techniques it is possible to manufacture very precise microsieves. The pores, which are well defined by photolithographic methods allow accurate separation of particles by size. The membrane thickness is usually smaller than the pore size resulting in operational process fluxes that are one to two decades higher than obtained with convential filtration methods.

The future of Nanowire sensing along the food chain

Nanotechnology is the controlled realization of structures between 1 and 100 nanometer. This is also the scale of biomolecules (e.g. DNA, proteins) that determine the relevant bioprocesses in living systems. Nanowire sensing envisions the rapid detection of relevant biomolecules using a nanowire with a diameter comparable to the size of an individual biomolecule. The technique offers a direct, real-time detection of captured ligands (biomolecules) without the usage of a fluorescent, magnetic or otherwise labeled molecule or particle.


Hans Bouwmeester, RIKILT-Institute of Food Safety, Wageningen University

 Nanotechnologies are expected to have a great impact on industrial production. Application of nanotechnology and nanoparticles in food are emerging rapidly, covering all areas of the food chain, from agricultural applications to food processing and enhancing bioavailability of nutrients. Enthusiasm, over the rate of progress and the possibilities is being tempered by concerns over possible downsides of nanotechnologies.

Nanoparticles are applied in a broad spectrum of products from pesticides, cosmetics, medical application to packaging materials, processing technologies and novel (functional) foods. Surveys indicate a great number of consumer products on the market that are allegedly based on nanotechnologies. Question is how to assess the possible risks (next to the potential benefits), is it possible to use the conventional risk assessment paradigm?

On several parts of the paradigm it can be foreseen that we will be confronted with a lack of knowledge. Nanoparticles come in different forms and characteristics like particles size, shape, surface area and surface chemistry may be more important the mass concentration. How to detect and analyze these particles in our food? How do the nanoparticles enter our body, and what is the role of our body’s natural barriers? Upon entering biological organisms nanoparticles diffuse to various tissues, what is their effect and is the current protocol toxicology sensitive for these effects? And finally can we perform an exposure assessment of nanoparticles, given the broad field of application if can be foreseen that exposure assessment of nanoparticles will have to integrate routes of exposure.

A recent survey by the Food Standard Agency revealed no big gaps in the legislative framework, the General Food Law can cover general safety aspects on details changes of protocols will be required

In conclusion, a lot more research is needed to be able to perform a robust and reliable risk assessment. Currently in an EU-project a new risk assessment cycle is being developed with an early involvement of all stakeholders which might be helpful for a generic risk assessment approach. Coming calls of the 7 th framework offers opportunities for joined research efforts in the area of risk assessment of nanoparticles.


Lynn Frewer, Wageningen University

 Consumer Perspectives on Food and Nanotechnology

 An number of existing and emerging food-related problems can be identified in both the developed and developing world. Scientific knowledge about what constitutes optimal nutrition is increasing. Examples range from increased knowledge about nutrient delivery to individual consumers, emerging food-related problems such as widespread obesity in developed countries, delivering appropriate nutrition to specific populations according to individual genetic and health related needs and sustainable food production. In addition, there is a need to provide safe foods over longer, and increasingly globalised, food chains. Taken together, factors such as these indicate that there is a need to develop new technological solutions to these problems, as they may be difficult to solve using traditional approaches alone. Nanotechnology can be used to develop new products and processes that can improve the quality of life of consumers through improved health, better sensory enjoyment of food, and reduced risk associated with food consumption (for example, reduced microbial contamination, or improved traceability of allergenic ingredients). However, as has already been demonstrated by the example of genetically modified foods, successful implementation and commercialisation of new technologies technology is contingent on societal acceptance of the technology overall, as consumer responses to specific applications. This resonates in particular within the agri-food sector, where public confidence in technological innovation is low. Important emerging issues include, for example, identifying societally acceptable procedures for testing the toxicity of innovative nanotechnology-based packaging materials and products, understanding the trade-off between perceived risk, benefit and values in the formation of consumer attitudes, and identification of ethical issues relating to human and animal health and environmental toxicology. In addition, it is important to develop stakeholder and consumer trust in risk assessment and management practices, as well as the underpinning science base.

 Failure to address stakeholder concerns has, in the past, reduced societal acceptance of technological innovation. As a consequence, a radically improved model for best practice in risk analysis and commercialisation of new food technology is now urgently needed in order to develop industrial competitiveness and for citizens to maintain their quality of life. . Understanding how society conceptualises risks, benefits, associated ethical issues, and realistic alternatives will create a situation in which better informed and more rational choices can be made about development and commercialisation priorities in the development and application of nanotechnology

 Neville Craddock, Neville Craddock Associates, UK

 Current and Potential Regulation of Nanotechnology in the Food Industry

 This paper will provide a practitioner’s view of the law currently in place:  

  • The current regulatory framework for foods, food additives and food contact packaging materials
  • Addressing possible deficiencies in the scope and application of current legislation and strengthening it in view of an identified need for specific safety data
  • Accommodating safety assessments into existing regulatory frameworks

Tim J. Wooster, Food Science Australia

 “Nanoemulsions for Beverage Applications”

 Nanoemulsions have recently received a lot of attention from the food industry because of their high clarity. This may enable the addition of nanoemulsified bioactives and flavors to a beverage without a change in product appearance. The formation of food nanoemulsions is particularly challenging because of limitations on the type of surfactants that can be used. Approaches that have been used include microemulsion and nanoemulsion formats.  

This talk will outline the use of food grade materials and processes to create long chain triglyceride nanoemulsions. The nanoemulsions produced have sub 50 nm particle size and have low surfactant to oil ratios (less than 1:1). These nanoemulsions were found to have high size stability with no evidence of Ostwald ripening over a 3 month period. Bioactive chemical/oxidative stability results highlight that the location of the bioactive can play an important role. The results of preliminary sensory trials in a beverage format will also be presented. The nanoemulsions presented show great promise for use in beverage and other applications.


Zahra Akbari, Department of Chemical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology

Potential of nanotechnology for food packaging industry  

Packaging has developed into an essential technology in the handling and commercialization of foodstuffs to provide, by maintaining or even increasing, the required levels of quality and safety. There are high hopes in food and packaging: longer shelf life, safer packaging, better traceability of products and healthier food is only a few of the expected improvements. This paper gathers a number of significant results where nanotechnology was satisfactorily applied to improve packaged food quality and safety by increasing the barrier properties. Nanotechnology will become one of the most powerful forces for innovation in the food packaging. One such innovation is polymer nanocomposite technology which holds the key to future advances in flexible packaging. Advantages of nanocomposite films are numerous and possibilities for application in the packaging industry are endless. Development of the nanopackaging nanocomposite and edible film nanocomposite has been the subject of tremendous research since the last decade. This article is designed to help develop a systematic means of application nanopackaging to maximize quality and shelf life of food products.



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Institute of Nanotechnology 2006