Abstract Nanotechnology involves the application, production, and processing of materials at the nanometer scale. Biological- and physical-inspired approaches, using both conventional and innovative food processing technologies to manipulate matter at this scale, provide the food industry with materials with new functionalities. Understanding the assembly behavior of native and modified food components is essential in developing nanostructured materials. Functionalized nanostructured materials are finding applications in many sectors of the food industry, including novel nanosensors, new packaging materials with improved mechanical and barrier properties, and efficient and targeted nutrient delivery systems. An improved understanding of the benefits and the risks of the technology based on sound scientific data will help gain the acceptance of nanotechnology by the food industry. New horizons for nanotechnology in food science may be achieved by further research on nanoscale structures and methods to control interactions between single molecules.