EU researchers highlight varying regulatory approaches to nanotech in food

Newly published research by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has revealed big differences in how the safe use of nanotechnology in food and feed production is regulated in different parts of the world.

The research is based on information gathered by the JRC, RIKILT-Wageningen and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) from published literature and a dedicated survey. It reviews how the potential safety risks of nanotechnology in food and feed are managed in the EU and other countries and the effect any differences might have on international trade.

The findings show that only the EU and Switzerland have nano-specific provisions incorporated into existing legislation – for example labelling nano-based ingredients as ‘engineered nanomaterials’ – while other countries rely on non-legally binding guidance and standards for industry.

The JRC researchers note that a wide range of nanotechnology applications for food processing and food packaging are in development and some are already marketed. It is important to demonstrate that these products are safe before they can gain market approval. This will require collaboration and information sharing between different countries to ensure that consumers are properly protected.

The research is published as an open access article in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology and can be found here.

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