Functional stabilisers nanoengineered for foods

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject: Functional stabilisers nanoengineered for foods Reply with quote

Functional stabilisers nanoengineered for foods

by Ahmed ElAmin

Dairy proteins and polysaccharides can be nanoengineered as new functional stabilisers for foods and packaging, according to scientists working on a project in Finland.

The government-sponsored Tailored Nanostabilisers for Biocomponent Interfaces Project (Taina) aims to engineer and construct functional nanoscale particles for sensitive biocomponents in foods.

Nanotechnology deals with controlling matter at near-atomic scales to produce unique materials, products and devices. It has been touted as the next revolution in many industries, including food manufacturing and packaging.

Tekes, the main public funding organisation for research and development in Finland, has provided €1.4m over three years for the food project.

Markku Lämsä, a Senior Technology Advisor with Tekes, said that they believe the particles can act as active emulsions, to stabilise foams and sensitive components during processing or in the gastro-intestinal tract. The scientists involved also want to develop tailored barrier and sensing functions for food packaging using the components.

For food packaging, they aim to improve the barrier properties of the biopolymers and also to evaluate the possibility to incorporate enzymes in nanoscale particles into the packaging materials. Such use of enzymes would give increased functionality or "intelligence" to the package, such as freshness indicators.

"The project focuses on interfacial engineering of dairy proteins and polysaccharides to improve their antixodant properties, emulsion stability, barrier properties and protection against other bioactive components," he said.

They are working on the premise that proteins and selected carbohydrates are suitable as nanostabilisers for bioactive components.

Enzymes can be used as tools to add novel functionalities to such polymers, they believe. Micro-organisms can also be used to produce proteins with unique potential for nanoscale applications.

"These hydrophobins have strong self-assembling nature and they are good candidates when nanoscopic structural organisation in biomaterials is desired," according to a description of the project.

The project partners are VTT , Åbo Akademi, Helsinki University of Technology and the Institute for Surface Chemistry in Sweden.


Story first posted: 21st March 2007.
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