panies are more open about what they
are doing.” 17
In March 2009, the scientific committee of the European Food Safety
Agency published an opinion on nanoscience and nanotechnology regarding food and animal feed safety. 18 A
guidance document on how to assess
potential risks associated with certain
food-related uses of
nanotechnology followed in May 2011,
regulators on how to
from industry to use
engineered nanomaterials in food additives,
food contact materials, novel foods,
food supplements, feed additives and
pesticides. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has issued a draft
guidance for industry use of nanomaterials in animal feed.19 However, more
research is required to determine the
impact of nanomaterials in food on human health to ensure public safety and
improve public communication of the
safe use of such materials in our food
supply. Some test methods for nanomaterial safety assessment have been reported. 20, 21 However, no internationally
accepted standard protocols for toxicity
testing of nanomaterials in food or feed
are currently available. Such protocols
are in the development stage by organizations such as the International Alliance for Nano Environment, Human
Health and Safety Harmonization22 and
the U.S. National Research Council. 23 A
uniform international regulatory framework for the evaluation of nanotechnology is a necessity for both food and
The benefits of nanotechnology use
by the food industry are many and expected to grow. This new, rapidly developing technology impacts every aspect
of the food system from production to
processing, packaging, transportation,
shelf life and bioavailability. Commer-
cial applications of nanomaterials in the
food industry will grow because of their
unique and novel properties. Human
exposure to nanomaterials will continue
to increase. Therefore, the health impact
of nanomaterials in food is of prime
public concern. The ability to quantify
the nanomaterial throughout the food
life cycle is critical
consistency, safety and
potential benefits of
the consumer product.
Public acceptance of
food and food-related
nanomaterials will de-
pend on their safety. A
regulatory framework for nanotechnol-
ogy in food is a must. n
The views presented in this article are those of
the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views of FDA.
A. Wallace Hayes, Ph.D., is a visiting scientist at the
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Saura C. Sahu, Ph.D., is a research chemist at
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
2. Berger, CN et al. 2010. “Fresh Fruits and
Vegetables as Vehicles for the Transmission
of Human Pathogens.” Environ Microbiol
3. Cushen, M et al. 2012. “Nanotechnologies
in the Food Industry: Recent Developments,
Risks and Regulation.” Trends Food Sci Technol
4. Berekaa, MM. 2015. “Nanotechnology in
Food Industry: Advances in Food Processing,
Packaging and Food Safety: A Review.” Int J
Curr Microbiol App Sci 4( 5):345–357.
5. Kessler, R. 2011. “Engineered Nanoparticles in Consumer Products: Understanding
a New Ingredient.” Environ Health Perspect
6. Morris, VJ et al. 2011. “Atomic Force Microscopy as a Nanoscience Tool in Rational Food
Design.” J Sci Food Agric 91:2117–2125.
7. Gerloff, K et al. 2009. “Cytotoxicity and
Oxidative DNA Damage by Nanoparticles in
Human Intestinal Caco- 2 Cells.” Nanotoxicol
8. Uboldi, C et al. 2012. “Amorphous Silica
Nanoparticles Do Not Induce Cytotoxicity, Cell
Transformation or Genotoxicity in Balb/3T3
Mouse Fibroblasts.” Mutat Res 745(1-2): 11–20.
9. Oberdorster, G et al. 2005. “Nanotoxicology;
An Emerging Discipline Evolving from Studies
of Ultrafine Particles.” Environ Health Perspect
10. Bradley, EL et al. 2011. “Applications of
Nanomaterial in Food Packaging with a Consideration of Opportunities for Developing Countries.” Trends Food Sci Technol 22:604–610.
11. Llorens, A et al. 2012. “Metallic-Based Micro-and Nanocomposites in Food Contact Materials
and Active Food Packaging.” Trends Food Sci
12. Pyrgiotakis, G et al. 2015. “Inactivation of
Foodborne Microorganisms Using Engineered
Water Nanostructures (EWNS).” Environ Sci
Technol 49( 6):3737–3745.
13. Chaudhry, Q et al. 2008. “Applications and
Implications of Nanotechnologies for the Food
Sector.” Food Addit Contam 25( 3):241–258.
14. Bouwmeester, H et al. 2009. “Review of
Health Safety Aspects of Nanotechnologies in
Food Production.” Regul Toxicol Pharmacol
15. Buzby, JC. 2010. “Nanotechnology for Food
Applications: More Questions Than Answers.” J
Consumer Affairs 44( 3):528–545.
16. Moraru, CI et al. 2003. “Nanotechnology: A
New Frontier in Food Science.” Food Technol
17. Nature Nanotechnology. 2010. “Nanofood
for Thought.” Nature Nanotechnol 5:89.
20. Handy, RD and BJ Shaw. 2007. “Toxic Effects
of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials: Implications for Public Health, Risk Assessment and the
Public Perception of Nanotechnology.” Health
Risk Society 9( 2):125–144.
22. Maynard, AD et al. 2006. “Safe Handling of
Nanotechnology.” Nature 444:267–269.
23. National Research Council. Toxicity Testing
in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy
(Washington, DC: National Academy Press,
opens the door to a
whole new array of