Nanoparticles are now a common ingredient in many products, including sunscreen and, of course, food. Silver is recognised as having antimicrobial properties and is now beginning to appear not in food but it’s packaging. It is just one of the nanoparticles which are now in increasingly common use.
Other ingredients are also added to food to extend shelflife or to improve texture or to add flavour or to improve some other characteristic of the food.
So what has this all got to do with clean foods?
What is a clean food?
A clean food is as natural as possible, with minimal or no artificial ingredients or processes.
Why are clean foods important?
Most of the trend predictions for 2018, and beyond, have clean foods as one of the top expectations for consumers.
This means that more and more consumers are looking for foods which are seen to be “clean”.
The dilemma of this is that to maintain sales, manufacturers have now not only got to have food which is safe, with good shelflife, good quality, reducing allergens, made to minimise environmental impact, they now have to try to make a food which has no artificial ingredients or processes, whilst still trying to make a profit.
This is difficult, and is certainly stretching the Product Development departments. It is like trying to juggle multiple balls all at once and do other stuff at the same time – like manage staff and costs and marketing etc etc – and not dropping anything.
When it comes to clean foods, the real question is about what is articial and minimal?
As an example, there are some who thing that even though pasteurisation is required, we don’t need homogenisation of milk and this changes the food to no longer be clean. So sales of gourmet non homogenised milks are increasing. There is also a belief that the heating used in traditional pasteurisation also changes the chemistry of the milk so there is pressure with the food industry to develop a method and equipment which will achieve the same level of food safety but without heating the milk. Ultrafiltration is just one of the methods being worked on.
Is adding silver nanoparticles, which will not cause us harm and is not artificial, Ok in a “clean food” because it will help the food safety and shelflife without using heat or is it not? Would that food be considered clean?
The other question is the marketing and labelling of “clean food” – how is it to be done legally?
The clean food movement cannot be considered a bad thing ,as it will drive food processors to do things in new and improved ways whilst no dropping any of the balls, but it is going to be hard.