In an article recently published by 'Food-Lab International' magazine, a representative of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre stated that 'the rapid developments in nanotechnology have driven and accelerated scientific and regulatory activities'; according to her, this is necessary since it means 'maximising the benefits of products containing nanomaterials while minimising their potential toxic effects'. The article, entitled Nanoparticles in the Food Chain: Challenges for Legislators, Industry and Control Laboratories, focuses on the issues specifically related to food and feed.
According to the author, 'consumers have expectations about products they buy and the main aspect is safety' - as such, it is paramount for a 'safety by design' approach to be followed, and work by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are singled out as helping risk assessment. In order to aid such assessments, she says there is an 'urgent need for appropriate and fit-for-purpose analytical methods to assess whether a product contains nanomaterials', even if such analysis is'more challenging' due to the nature of the EU definition of nanomaterials.
Nevertheless it is acknowledged that 'there is today only a limited amount of scientific evidence to suggest that nanomaterials present a risk to human health' and that nanoparticles can be found 'unintentionally in the environment and consumer products'. The author also insists that, whilst 'new phenomena...may occur because of new properties related to the nanoscale', nanomaterials should not be singled out; rather, 'principles of safety assessment...should conform to the same procedures as any other new material'.
Follow this link to read the full article, and follow these links to read the NIA's reporting on the guidance from EFSA, the work being done by the OECD, and the EU's definition of nanomaterials.