An article in these weeks Observer (a british Sunday Newspaper) seems to capture the nanoZeitgeist. This one has it all - the battle between environmental groups and large multinational food processing companies, nanobots dishing up steak sandwiches and Pat Mooney worrying about the effects of nanoparticles after they have, how should we put this, passed through the body.
Marvin Rudolph, director of DuPont Food Industry Solutions gets a little overexcited by the prospect of nanobots could assembling “the desired steak or flour from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms present in the air as water and carbon dioxide” (something that raises a whole set of food related ethical dilemmas – could vegans eat assembled bacon?), but the real action is over at Kraft. Manuel Marquez-Sanchez’s work on nanocapsules mirrors what other industries are already trying to achieve, a degree of programmability in matter. The polymer based shake-gel may be closer to reality than the interactive, customisable drink being proposed.
According to Kraft, 'the idea is that everyone buys the same drink, but you'll be able to decide its colour, flavour, concentration and texture,' or in simpler terms, we only make one product instead of tens of thousands.
Having been exposed over many years to Krafts experiments with processed cheese, any flavour or texture woukld be welcome.
Nanotechnology is already having a major effect on the food industry, but nanobots aren’t in the picture. Think packaging and you may get closer, although a recent consulting assignment in a Scandinavian fish processing plant gave us an insight into some other applications.
We wonder what Jose Bove would make of it all?