Monday, March 29, 2010


Like GM Foods, Nano Technology application in food processing is also attracting world wide attention because of the uncertainties associated with its use and apprehensions about the safety of the nano particles. While industry is all excited about the immense potential for use of nano particles in processing of various foods, regulatory authorities have no clues regarding the ultimate effect these particles will have in human body. With no law barring the use of nano materials in foods, some processors are reported to be using them with no over sight from any body and lack of transparency in such practices is adding to the worries of the consumers.

"It is widely known that nano-titanium dioxide is used as filler in hundreds of medicines and cosmetics and as a blocking agent in sunscreens. But Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, worries that the danger is greater "when the nano-titanium dioxide is used in food." Ice cream companies, Hanson says, are using nanomaterials to make their products "look richer and better textured." Bread makers are spraying nanomaterials on their loaves "to make them shinier and help them keep microbe-free longer." While AOL News was unable to identify a company pursuing the latter practice, it did find Sono-Tek of Milton, N.Y., which uses nanotechnology in its industrial sprayers. "One new application for us is spraying nanomaterial suspensions onto biodegradable plastic food wrapping materials to preserve the freshness of food products," says Christopher Coccio, chairman and CEO. He said the development of this nano-wrap was partially funded by New York State's Energy Research and Development Authority. "This is happening," Hanson says. He calls on the FDA to "immediately seek a ban on any products that contain these nanoparticles, especially those in products that are likely to be ingested by children." "The UCLA study means we need to research the health effects of these products before people get sick, not after," Hanson says.

Probably there may not be any problem in using Nano Technology on the short term but long term implication needs to be ascertained before allowing industry wide use of this frontier technology. Any new technology is bound to raise concerns amongst the consumers unless the risk- benefit profile is scientifically established in favor of its use outweighing the risk factors. If Nano Technology is found to be a miracle means of improving quality and safety of processed foods, there should not be any opposition to its use. It is up to the industry and the governments to convince that the technology has been proved safe.


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