In both developed and developing countries, nanotechnology is described as the new industrial revolution, involving large investments. Research on nanotechnology and nanomaterials are also substantial. Materials scientists and engineers have made significant developments in the improvement of methods of synthesis of nanomaterial solids. It is an essential modern scientific field that is also continuously developing as a broad area of research in food processing, food preservation, packaging and in development of functional foods. Major nano based applications in the food industries are nanoparticles, nanocomposites, nanoemulsions, nanosensors, nanopatterned matter and nanostructured material. Nano based approaches in food manufacturers, agricultural producers, and consumers could gain a more competitive position. Further, the delivery of bioactive compounds, fortification for nutritional aspects, as well as development of functional food is possible through the nano approach.
The use of natural food sources as functional foods for health is gaining public interest. Incorporation of food ingredients and micronutrients into existing food formulations present many challenges due to food stability, bioavailability concerns, high concentration requirements meet specific health applications and unpleasant sensory attribute associated with most nutrients. Conversion of coarse particles of active compounds to nanoparticles or nanosuspensions can be an efficient approach in handling challenges associated in bioactive and nutrient delivery systems.
Application of nano structured food materials
Among several applications of nanotechnology in food systems are nanodispersions and nanocapsules for nanoparticulate delivery system, nanolaminates, nanocomposites for food packaging systems and nanosensors for food safety and biosecurity applications. Nanotechnology also finds applications in food and dairy processing. Application through food additives (nano inside) and food packaging (nano outside) concept. Food additives in the nano size can be used to improve texture, flavor and nutrients and even detect pathogens. Nano food packaging involves extending food shelf life, providing edible, nano wrappers which can envelope foods, prevent gas and moisture exchange, contain nano-sensors and antimicrobial activators ('smart packaging') to detect food spoilage and to release nano-anti-microbes that 3 can to extend food product shelf life .
Food Fortification and its importance
Food fortification means the addition of micronutrients to processed foods. In many cases, this concept has lead to relatively rapid improvements in the micronutrient status of a population; importantly, at a very reasonable cost. This approach is appropriate especially if advantage can be taken of existing technology and local distribution networks. Since the benefits are potentially large, food fortification can be a cost effective public health intervention. Fortified foods need to be consumed in adequate amount by a larger proportion of the targeted. Fortification is the process of adding nutrients or non-nutrient bioactive components to edible products such as foods, food constituents or supplements. It can be used to correct or prevent widespread nutrient deficiencies and associated deficiencies. Food fortification can be considered as a public health strategy to enhance the nutrient intake of a population. Over the past century, fortification has been effective in reducing the risk of nutrient deficiency diseases such as iron deficiency anemia, beriberi, goiter, pellagra, and rickets. Although early fortification programs were designed to eliminate deficiency diseases, at present, fortification programs focus on low dietary intakes and rapid absorption of micronutrients. Food Fortification' through nano TECHNOLO of late, there is a keen interest to fortify processed food and dairy products with nanoencapsulated nutrients or bioactive compounds.
Need for micro nutrient fortification
From few years, interest in developing approaches to solve micronutrient malnutrition has increased. One major reason for this is the realization that micronutrient malnutrition contributes substantially to the global burden of disease. In 2000, the World Health Report identified iodine, iron, vitamin A and zinc deficiencies as issues among the world's most serious health risk factors. In addition to obvious clinical manifestations, micronutrient malnutrition is also responsible for a wide range of non-specific physiological impairments leading to reduced resistance to infections, metabolic disorders, and delayed or impaired physical and psychomotor development. According to World Health Organization (WHO) mortality data, around 0.8 million deaths (1.5% of the total) are known to be attributed to iron deficiency every year, and a similar number to vitamin A deficiency. In terms of the loss of healthy life expressed in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), iron-deficiency anaemia results in 25 million DALYs lost (or 2.4% of the global total), vitamin A deficiency to 18 million DALYs lost (or 1.8% of the global total) and iodine deficiency to 2.5 million DALYs lost (or 0.2% of the global total). The burden of micronutrient deficiencies in India is high. Iron, vitamin-A and iodine deficiency disorders are particularly significant. Around 70% children aged between 6-59 months are anaemic. Also, 55% women and 24% men in the country are anaemic. Although there are state wise variations, high prevalence of anaemia does not have 10 exceptions. In addition, the intake of the foods rich in essential nutrients is low. India has a national program that provides vitamin-A supplementation (2,00,000 IU every 6 months) to children aged between 12-59 months through the Integrated Child Services (ICDS) scheme. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reports that the coverage of target population is low, with just 25% children below 5 years of age who had received vitamin-A supplements six months before the survey. Coverage of iron supplementation is also extremely low with just about 5% of 6-59 month old children receiving iron supplements from ICDS as per the NFHS-3 report.
Fortification is a successful delivery system to resolve nutrient inadequacy and associated deficiencies. Recent developments have shown that fortification of active compounds can not only prevent of deficiencies but also improve human health. However, its long-term effects remain unknown. Fortification adds to the nutrient intake of nearly everyone in a population. Nanotechnology has already found several applications in fortification or encapsulation of food and dairy ingredients. Although few successful nano food products are already available in the market, their remarkable potential will attract more and more competitors in this field. It has shown greater scopes of improving the effectiveness of bioactive compounds and delivery mechanisms so as to improve human health. However, regulatory issues on nano foods are still being developed and there is a lot of research gap in nanotechnology based applications for the food industry.