Nanotechnologies in the Food Arena: New Opportunities, New Questions, New Concerns
This first chapter sets the scene for the subsequent chapters on individual application areas of nanotechnologies that are written by acknowledged experts in their respective fields. It describes and defines the relevant materials, products, and applications of nanotechnologies, and highlights the distinctive chemical and physical attributes that make them so attractive for applications in the food sector. The chapter presents a summary of the current and projected applications of nanotechnologies, and opens up a discussion on the different issues that have emanated from such applications in the food sector. It emphasises that public perception and ultimate acceptance or rejection of nanotech food products hinges on what benefits they bring, and to whom, and also on whether they may pose a potential risk to the consumer. In this regard, it also raises the question whether the novel chemical and physical attributes of some nanomaterials can give rise to some hitherto unrecognised health hazard. The chapter then raises questions on the applicability of current risk assessment procedures and the adequacy of regulatory frameworks for new products.