X-ray diffraction or XRD is used to analyze a wide range of materials like powders, crystals, thin films, solid objects and even nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are the next big thing on the minds of the food industry because they can completely revolutionize the industry. Nanoparticles can be used to manufacture fatless creamy liquids, enhance flavor and colors, keep food fresh longer and even detect any spoilage. Nanoparticles are also the building blocks of pharmaceuticals, polymers, and composites. Therefore XRD labs play an important role in analyzing nanoparticles.
XRD analysis is also used to detect nanoparticles that can enter the foods through environmental sources. Burning wood, oil, charcoal, wildfires as well as volcanic activity can cause ultra-small particles of carbon, metals, and silica to get released into the atmosphere. From here the nanoparticles can easily enter the food chain. Presently there are safety studies being carried out through XRD analysis to investigate how safe nanoparticles are in food additives, packaging material and what hazards they might pose to human health.
There are some few nano-ingredients like titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide and zinc oxide that are added directly to foods or packaging. These ingredients are used in food and pharmaceuticals and are considered safe but the size of those particles is larger than nanoparticles. An XRD lab can help to analyze the size, toxicity effects and safety levels of consumption of nanoparticles.
The problem with nanoparticles is that once they are ingested they can pass into the blood and lymph system and from there can lodge in the bones, lymph nodes, brain, liver and even heart. Therefore X-ray diffraction is being used to study nanoparticles and their safety parameters before they can be used in food and food-related products. Safety tests in XRD labs can help to detect which size and surface improves or deters the nanoparticles from entering the body cells. XRD analysis is useful because it has the ability to define and identify both bulk and nanoparticles.
Of course, there are nanoparticles that are considered safe when used as additives. However, there is no evidence which suggests that those nanoparticles that have entered the food chain from the atmosphere are completely safe. XRD analyses the chemical composition, thickness as well as the surface texture to determine safety as nanoparticles could interact with the cells in unexpected ways.
The food and beverage industry is developing rapidly and manufacturers have begun to use XRD labs for analyzing foods with nanoparticles. They wish to be on the right side of the government regulatory bodies and so continue to monitor foods with XRD which is capable of providing the exact physicochemical characteristics of nanoparticles.
Food manufacturers wish to provide authentic products that have undergone all safety tests and so are increasingly using XRD analysis to ensure food safety even at the source. Using XRD ensures quality checks through the entire production line at each stage can be analyzed and food components and ambiguities can be identified with ease.