FDF director of food safety & science

Innovation is critical to the development of bakery firms, and nanotechnologies should be allowed to form part of a list of options available to the industry. Nanotechnology manipulates matter on an atomic or molecular scale. There is no need to create ’nano-hype’, suggesting wider potential than is currently the case, when the research is still in its infancy. But it is worth noting that nanotechnologies could improve packaging, processes and ingredients and benefit the baking industry and consumers.

As with all new technologies, the technical hurdles are part of the challenge and consumer acceptance of potential new bakery products will require a very good understanding of the customer base and the development of credible and clear messages.

Findings from the Citizens’ Forum on nanotechnology, published by the Food Standards Agency on 21 April indicate that acceptance of the use of nanotechnologies depends very much on the specific applications and perceived benefits. The responses also highlighted a preference for an ’n’ label for nano foods, which would need to be complemented by consumer education.

A similar message emerged from the Public Attitudes to Science 2011 survey by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, published on 2 May. Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society said keeping science behind closed doors was not an option, adding that "where issues are controversial, we have to find out what it is that bothers people and address those concerns".

So if and when bakery firms find suitable nano solutions for products, they will need to invest in both the product development and in the communication on what makes it healthier, last for longer or simply taste better.