Nanotech database compiles consumer items on the market

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

A canola oil product, a cocoa drink and a chocolate gum are among
the fifteen food and drink items listed in a new online
nanotechnology database.

The items are listed in a consumer database by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, based at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the US.

This is the first and only publicly accessible online inventory of nanotechnology consumer products, the project claims and indicates that the food and beverage sector has a long way to go in developing the technology for the industry.

The inventory currently contains information on 212 nano products, either on the market or due to be introduced.

The database far exceeds the existing US federal government-accepted estimate of about 80 consumer products, the project claims.

"We are at the vanguard of discovering the endless benefits of nanotechnology for applications like targeted cancer treatments and more efficient solar cells,"​ the project stated in a press release. "With this inventory, we also are learning that this technology is already being incorporated into our daily lives. It's on store shelves and being sold in every part of the world."

Currently, the searchable database catalogs consumer products using nanotechnology or containing nano materials - from sunscreens to refrigerators and cultured diamonds.

Listed under the food and beverage category are 14 items, most of them nutritional supplement products.

Canola Active Oil by Shemen Industries in Israel is one such food product. The product uses technology called NSSL (Nano-sized self assembled structured liquids). NSSL involves a development of minute compressed micelles, which are called nanodrops.

The minute micelles serve as a liquid carrier, which allows penetration of healthy components, such as vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, that are insoluble in water or fats, the company claims on its Internet sie.

"The micelles are added to the food product, and thus pass through the digestive system effectively, without sinking or breaking up, to the absorption site,"​ the company stated. "The minute micelles carry the phytosterols to the large micelles that the body produces from the bile acid, where they compete with cholesterol for entry into the micelle. The phytosterols enter the micelle, thereby inhibiting transportation of cholesterol from the digestive system into the bloodstream."

Nanoceuticals Slim Shake Chocolate by RBC Life Sciences is another product listed in the database.

"The natural health benefits of cocoa have been combined with RBC's NanoCluster delivery system to give you CocoaClusters a technologically advanced form of cocoa that offers enhanced flavour without the need for excess sugar,"​ the company claims on its Internet site.

RBC's NanoClusters are tiny particles, 100,000th the size of a single grain of sand, and are designed to carry nutrition into your cells, the US company stated.

During the process of creating NanoClusters, pure cocoa is added to the "cluster" formation to enhance the taste and other benefits, the company stated. NanoClusters is a nanosize powder that combines with nutritional supplements. When consumed, it reduces the surface tension of foods and supplements to increase wetness and absorption of nutrients, the company stated.

NanoCeuticals, with nanoscale ingredients, allows RBC to create products with a variety of attributes. These include products that scavenge more free radicals, stimulate the source of energy, increase hydration, balance the body's pH, reduce lactic acid during exercise, and reduce the surface tension of foods and supplements to increase wetness and absorption of nutrients, the company stated.

Choco'la Chocolate Gum by US-based O'lala Foods is another product listed in the database.

According to an article in Forbes magazine the product incorporates nanoscale crystals, modifying surface morphology and giving the product a creamier texture and chocolate flavour.

However, O'lala's chief executive subsequently denied the magazine's claim that the product is a gum and is already on the market.

"O'lala has prototypes of confections using nanoscale ingredients. But they are not ready for market and they aren't gum,"​ Neil Wyant is quoted as stating in the New York Times.

The company's website states: "After years of secret product development O'lala created the RST flavour system And with RST, O'lala has solved the long-standing problem of gum falling apart when you mix chocolate and other rich ingredients into the gum base and created Choco'la Chocolate Chewing Gum."

Based on the New York Times story the project is considering removing the product from the inventory.

The US government currently relies on data compiled by EmTech Research regarding how nanotechnology is marketed and used commercially. The project's inventory was developed in response to consumer interest in nanotechnology and its commercial uses.

Beginning in 2005, the project began compiling products and materials containing nanotechnology from around the globe for inclusion in the consumer inventory. Entry to the list is based primarily on online, English-language information provided by the product's manufacturer. It does not include nanotechnology consumer products which companies have not identified as such.

Health and fitness products form the largest category in the inventory, with 125 products to-date. This includes everything from face creams to hockey sticks.

Within the health and fitness category, clothing - such as stain-resistant shirts, pants and neckties - makes up the largest sub-category with 34 products, followed closely by sporting goods (33 products) and cosmetics (31 products).

Electronics and computers make up the second largest category with 30 products, followed by the home and garden category.

The US is the overwhelming leader in consumer nanotechnology product development with 126 items on the market, according to the project. East Asia and Europe follow with 42 and 35 nano products respectively.

Nanoengineered carbon is the most common material used in the nano products included within the inventory, followed by silver and silica.

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.

The inventory can be accessed online at www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts.

Related topics: Ingredients

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