Lab Molecule ResearchA new Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) service for measuring nanoparticles in food and drink products has been introduced by RSSL, with the acquisition of a Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZSP into the physical chemistry department. The new instrument will assist in the evaluation of nano-sized particles to aid quality control and development of food products and ingredients, and through determination of zeta potential as an indicator of stability to help screen formulations thus reducing the time to market.

RSSL is already a leading provider of particle sizing services to the food and drink industry, with expertise and equipment for measuring and analysing particles in sizes ranging from 11 mm down to 0.02 µm. The arrival of this new equipment allow RSSL can now quantify particles between 0.3 to 10 µm, thus completing their comprehensive sizing service, combined with the quality of service and data integrity that customers are familiar with.

Nanoparticles represent both an opportunity and a challenge for the food industry. However, there is little in the way of international regulations affecting their use,with only the EU, Switzerland and the USA imposing any kind of restrictions or guidance.

Nanoparticles are already in widespread use, for example as a means of encapsulating ingredients, and even targeting specific ingredients at different parts of the gut. However, nanoparticles are recognized as representing a potential threat to health and little is known about the long term consequences of ingestion.

Particle size can impact the physico-chemical performance of many foodproducts and potentially have a bearing on consumer preference. The specifications for raw materials and finished products often involve a size range parameter. RSSL will be able to use the Zetasizer to support R&D and potentially release testing, as well as troubleshooting problems where particle size is likely to be a factor. An extensive range of sophisticated microscopy techniques are also available from RSSL to support this work.

As its name implies, the Zetasizer can also measure the zeta potential of particles. The zeta potential gives a rapid indication of the stability of emulsions and suspensions, and by determining zeta potential of new formulations it may assist in identifying the best candidates for stability studies at the earliest possible stage. Performing measurements of zeta potential could streamline NPD effort by identifying and excluding formulations that are most likely to suffer from flocculation, precipitation and separation.

“This new technology furthers our commitment to the sector and demonstrates RSSL’s willingness to pioneer technology in the commercial arena that generally is only seen in the academic research environment.The Zetasizer will help us move to the fore in helping clients navigate the nanoparticle challenge. Additionally, in terms of stability, the Zetasizer will allow us to identify vulnerable formulations and help customers focus their NPD efforts on products that have a better chance of getting to market,” notes Rachel Henton, General Manager at RSSL.