Foods that include some forms of engineered nanoparticles might not immediately cause any damage to the human body. However, they may cause some health complications in the long term period.
Nanotechnology is a highly studied topic throughout the modern scientific age, which could possibly advance technological development into the future. One area in nanotechnology which has been highly focused on is the use of nanotechnology in daily food consumption. This topic is highly discussed by scientists and engineers as the nature of nanoparticles is still largely unknown.
Nanoparticles are structures that are between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) in size. They exhibit very unique properties such as in their solubility and structure. Generally, the nanoparticles are divided into two main categories (A) naturally formed nanoparticles and (B) engineered nanoparticles. It is crucial to differentiate between the two distinct types of nanoparticles that are found inside the food when discussing nanoparticles, which are consumed by animal species (Donsky, 2017). Naturally formed nanoscale materials are found in several foods that are consumed by plant and animal species. Therefore, they may be found in animal and plant cells and organelles and their products. For example, casein micelles are commonly found in milk. These naturally created nanoparticles do not harm animals in any way (Osfield, 2016). However, the health issues may arise when the engineered nanoscale materials are used in products. They are intentionally added to foods for numerous reasons such as to increase shelf-life or improve the quality of products. It has been proven that engineered nanoparticles, more specifically the ones that are used in food delivery systems, leach into the food matrix and can cause serious harm if digested. This has triggered alarm and critical concerns for food biosecurity agencies and the general public around the world as the side-effects that come with the consumption of nanoparticles is still unknown and could cause serious injury or illness for the consumers.
Analysis and Interpretation:
Research on nanoparticles is scarce; however, there are still many scientific sources that have effectively shown that indigestion of nanoparticles by animal species can produce free radicles, which can damage cells and DNA. There is also concern that once nanoparticles are in the bloodstream, they will have easy access to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) (Leblanc, 2017). The Blood-brain barrier is the most vital protective mechanism in the central nervous system which protects the brain and spinal cord from harmful toxins and pathogens entering through the capillary endothelial membrane (Pablo Javita, 2018). A restriction to this study would be that these certain side effects of consuming nanoparticles has been found in wild – type animals and not humans, therefore it could still be debated whether for humans the effects would be the same.
Although the consumption of engineered nanomaterials is known to cause serious harm to the human body over time (Oberdörster G et al. (2005), many large firms benefit from the usage of nanoparticles in their products as nanomaterials can increase the overall quality of the food, such as texture, taste, and shelf-life. However, the failure of food agencies around the world to set proper regulations and detailed investigations of these microscopic particles has led to serious concern. Despite the extensive studies that have been done by researchers and scientists which have shown that nanoparticles in food can be harmful if consumed by humans, artificially created nanoparticles are still widely used in food products (Mercola, 2016). The application of engineered nanomaterials is extensively widespread in daily food diets. Many food items such as Kellogg’s pop tarts, Kool-Aid and MNM’s, have used nanoparticles in their foods so that the texture, food quality and shelf life of the product becomes greater (Valentín Cena & Pablo Játiva, 2018).