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Agriculture

  • • Nanocapsules for more efficient delivery of pesticides, fertilizers and other agrochemicals
  • • Nanomaterials for detection of animal and plant pathogens
  • • Nanomaterials for identity preservation and tracking and tracing

Food and Feed

  • • Nanocapsules to improve dispersion, bioavailability and absorption of nutrients
  • • Nanomaterials as color enhancers
  • • Nano-encapsulated flavor enhancers
  • • Nanotubes and nanoparticles as gelation and viscousifying agents
  • • Nanoparticles for selective binding and removal of chemicals and pathogens from food

Food Packaging

  • • Nanoparticles to detect chemicals of foodborne pathogens
  • • Biodegradable nanosensors for temperature and moisture monitoring
  • • Nanoclays and nanofilms as barrier materials to prevent spoilage and oxygen absorption
  • • Nanoparticles for antimicrobial and antifungal surface coatingods Food Supplements
  • • Nanoparticle suspensions as antimicrobials
  • • Nanoencapsulation for targeted delivery of nutraceuticals

There are already many products made with ingredients produced through nanotechnology. However, there is not yet a complete vision of nanofood already available or in development. Some products are visible on the Project on Emerging Nanotechnology website (http://www.nanotechproject.org/cpi/). Nanofood includes both products containing nanoparticles used as ingredients or as additives and products containing nanostructures used to convey bioactive compounds, facilitate their absorption, or improve the organoleptic characteristics of the foodstuffs.

To date, only the regulation on food additives (Regulation EU 1333/2008, art. 12) establishes specific rules on nanotechnology:

When a food additive is already included in a Community list and there is a significant change in its production methods or in the starting materials used, or there is a change in particle size, for example through nanotechnology, the food additive prepared by those new methods or materials shall be considered as a different additive and a new entry in the Community lists or a change in the specifications shall be required before it can be placed on the market.

Unfortunately, to date, there is no ban on the use of nanofoods, despite the fact that currently available toxicology studies are not sufficient for proper risk assessment, and there is no obligation to include the indications on the label for correct information to the consumer.

In accordance with EFSA's strategy for cooperation and networking with Member States, a Network for Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies in Food and Feed was established in 2010 with the goal of exchanging information between EFSA and the member states on possible emerging risks for food and feed safety in 2010. The annual report of the Network in 2013, among other conclusions, includes these guidelines:

  • • Specific health risk cannot be excluded due to the characteristic of the Enms such as very small dimensions and large surface. The small size of particles increases their ability of moving in a different way compared with the same substances with bigger dimensions inside the human body, while their large surface increases their reactivity.
  • • There are also further limitations and uncertainties, especially in relation to the characterization, detection, and measurement of ENMs in food, in animal feed, and in the human body. Finally, information on absorption, distribution, excretion, and toxicity of ENM is still limited.

In December 2013, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new Regulation 2013/0435 (Cod) concerning novel foods, where it is pointed out that nanomaterials intended for food use must be evaluated and authorized according to that Regulation before they are marketed.

In its latest report, published in 2014 in February 2015, the EFSA Network reiterates the following:

  • • Nanomaterials mainly present in food and feed are titanium dioxide (TiO2) and synthetic amorphous silica (SAS).
  • • Currently available data are not sufficient for proper risk assessment.

According to the European Parliament's communication on October 29, 2015, the new Regulation on novel food has been approved. In the provisional test, a new definition for the ENMs has been set:

’’Engineered nanomaterial” means any intentionally produced material that has one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less or that is composed of discrete functional parts, either internally or at the surface, many of which have one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less, including structures, agglomerates or aggregates, which may have a size above the order of 100 nm but retain properties that are characteristic of the nanoscale.

The Union list of approval novel food has to be made. Declaring “nano” on the label, already required by regulation for cosmetics, is not mandatory for food products. The question “Why?” arises spontaneously. The current state of knowledge could lead to the authorization of nanofoods whose harmful effects could be manifested only after several years of exposure.

 
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