AFM cantileverThe probe microscope methods used at IFR allow us to observe food molecules, their interactions and the types of structures they form within foods. This understanding offers routes to the rational selection of raw materials, rational processing of foods and the discovery or design of new structures.

As such these activities can be considered to be examples of nanoscience and nanotechnology. However there are many aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology that can impinge on the food industry. Some people welcome this as a new dawn for food science and technology, whereas others are more cautious and voice concerns. The types of products appearing outside the UK suggest that their adoption within the UK could challenge current regulations and may, some feel, justify new types of labelling in order to allow consumers to exercise choice.

The purpose of this page is to provide access to information on nanotechnology particularly where this relates to, or concerns, possible applications in the food area.

Polysaccharide (a) and Protein (b) networks
(a) Polysaccharide and (b) Protein Networks

Further reading

  • Morris VJ. Nanotechnology and its future in new product development. Journal of the Institute of Food Science and Technology. 20 (3)15-17 2006.
  • Morris VJ. Is Nanotechnology going to change the future of Food Technology? The International Review of Food Science and Technology 3 16-18 2005.
  • Jones RAL. Soft machines: nanotechnology and life. Oxford University Press (2004). A good book about nanotechnology for the general reader.

Additional information related to nanotechnology

General interest

Legislation and Regulation

  • - The Council for Science and Technology is reviewing progress on actions set out in the Government's response to the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering report "Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainities". The website includes consideration of nanotechnology in food.
  • - The FSA website provides documents on nanotechnology and access to minutes of committees considering nanotechnology.
  • - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the keystone of European Union (EU) risk assessment regarding food and feed safety. In close collaboration with national authorities and in open consultation with its stakeholders, EFSA provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks. They are starting to discuss the regulation of nanotechnology in food.
  • - For information on the FDA attitude to nanotechnology
  • - Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) report on nanotechnology and its potential future applications in relation to food and food packaging. The report is downloadable as a PDF file.

Public Perception


Funding and Research

  • - This is the homepage of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. They have identified Bionanotechnology as a key research area.
  • - The website describes the research and industrial uses of each of the elements, as well as over 200 nanoparticles and isotopes, which are discussed and characterized with applications.
  • - DEFRA oversees regulation of certain areas of the food chain in the UK, including animal welfare, safety standards, and environmental issues. A useful source for information on nanotechnology and the government considerations on nanotechnology. They have recently published a report on the potential risks of engineered nanoparticles.
  • - Access to the study: Nanotechnology in Food and Food Processing Industry Worldwide 2003-2006-2010-2015. Helmut Kaiser Consultancy (2004). This is a study on nanofoods which can be purchased from the website.
  • - The European Commission nanotechnology website, which provides news and information about European nanotechnology research and an overview of nanotechnology-related activities at the European Commission. It highlights elements specifically relevant to nanotechnology in Europe such as the European strategy and the Action Plan, projects and funding opportunities in the Framework Programmes and related publications and events.
  • - An organisation dedicated to applying science in protection of foodchain safety and environmental health. Through developing and applying knowledge we support our customers in assessing risks, delivering sustainable environmental solutions and responding to emergencies. Provides access to reports on nanotechnology and food.