Consumers are warming to the idea of using nanotechnology in food and packaging, a Food Standards Agency report has revealed.

There was "great enthusiasm" among the consumers surveyed for applications that could reduce levels of salt, sugar and fat in products without affecting taste, found the report.

Consumers were also interested in increased nutrient or ­vitamin content as well as nanopackaging applications that could detect food spoilage and products that extended shelf life and ­preserved foods.

However, 'unnecessary' or 'trivial' applications of nanotechnology to, say, develop foods with new textures and flavours or create products that made people feel fuller for longer were given the thumbs down.

Concerns were also raised about the ability to predict the long-term health effects of nanotechnology and how product safety could be ensured.

"There needs to be a dialogue with consumers," said BRC director of food policy Andrew Opie.

Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at Which?, added: "Consumers want greater transparency. Research and regulatory gaps need to be urgently addressed and people need meaningful ­labelling and information."