Call for research into effects of consuming nano-sized food

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food standards agency, Leatherhead

More research is needed into the effects of consuming nano-sized food particles, according to the chairman of a Food Standards Agency (FSA) advisory...

More research is needed into the effects of consuming nano-sized food particles, according to the chairman of a Food Standards Agency (FSA) advisory committee on novel foods.

Professor Mike Gasson, who chairs the FSA’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), said very little data existed on the oral uptake of nanoparticles and their potential passage though the gut wall. Most of the existing data related to the inhalation of particles, he claimed.

Gasson, who said nanotechnology was on the ACNFP’s “horizon scanning” agenda, suggested that it was necessary to bring more nanotechnology expertise on to his committee.

He was responding to a question posed by Dr Naomi Salmon from Aberystwyth University at a workshop organised by the ACNFP in London last week. Salmon asked whether a “size-based definition” for nanotechnology might be more appropriate than one based on process.

A new report on nanotechnology will be published by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) this summer. RCEP commissioner Professor Stephen Holgate, based at the School of Medicine at Southampton University, said: “We have taken a lot of evidence … there is undoubtedly a large gap [in knowledge] that needs to be filled.”

Meanwhile, contract research body Leatherhead Food International (LFI) is running a ‘Nanowatch’ project to evaluate the opportunities for using micro- and nanotechnology in food and drink products. This is currently carrying out feasibility studies for the preparation of micro- and nano-emulsions and preparation of water-dispersible and fat-soluble vitamins for applications in beverages.

As well as work on emulsions for beverage and food applications, LFI is proposing to focus future NanoWatch activity on healthy ingredients - salt, sugar, fat, vitamins and minerals; and surface and sensor technologies. LFI will be holding a free open meeting for interested companies on June 10. For more details contact Kathy Groves, tel 01372 822329 email: xtebirf@yrngureurnqsbbq.pbz

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