Nanotechnology refers to controlling matter at an atomic or molecular scale measured in nanometers, or millionths of millimeters. In the food industry, the technology has a variety of uses including detecting bacteria in packaging, or producing stronger flavors and colorings.
For food manufacturers looking to use nanotechnology, many questions include whether the manufacturing change impacts the identity of a component and whether the change could have any impact on safety.
An official of food additive safety at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said: “It’s industry’s responsibility to make sure a product is safe and part of that is making sure that product is regulated.”
So far, however, the FDA has avoided being specific about what nanotechnology is, although it is generally accepted that it refers to particles of around 100 nanometers.“We do not have a definition about what nano size is. We tend to talk more in terms of impact,” official said.
Asked whether consumers could be concerned that the FDA lacks a nanotechnology definition, McCarthy said: “I don’t think so. There are times when 101 nanometers is just as active as 100, so if you put a cut-off on it, it could actually end up being more misleading.” She added that FDA GRAS for nanotech ingredients in food had certainly not been ruled out, but at the moment companies would find it difficult to achieve because the current scientific knowledge is still not deep enough to conclusively prove their safety.
Aporte: Leidy Beltrán