In 2015 an expert toxicologist prepared two reports for the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ on the potential use of nanotechnologies in existing food additives and food packaging. The reports were then peer reviewed by an expert pharmacologist and toxicologist to evaluate whether the conclusions for each of the reports were supported by the weight of evidence in scientific literature.  The peer review agreed with the overall conclusions of the reports.  

 

Scope of the work 

The consultant was asked to review publically available scientific literature on whether there is reasonable evidence of health risks associated with oral ingestion of titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide and silver in food.  These food additives may contain a proportion of material with at least one dimension in the nanoscale range. 

As an extension of this work, evidence of risks to health from nanomaterials used in food packaging was also investigated.

Key findings 

·         The consultant reviewed the evidence on nanoscale silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide and silver in food and found the weight of evidence does not support claims of significant health risks for food grade materials.

·         Titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide are used internationally in a range of food products and have been used safely for decades. They are approved food additives in Australia and New Zealand. Silver is also an approved additive in Australia and New Zealand but is permitted in very few foods.

·         Overall, the findings of the report are consistent with recently published information in the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials toxicological dossiers on silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide and silver.

·         There is no direct evidence to suggest novel nanomaterials are currently being used in food packaging applications in Australia or New Zealand, with most patents found from the United States.

·         From the case studies on the use of nano-clay and nano silver in packaging, the report concludes that there is no evidence from the literature of migration of nano-clay from packaging into food.  The nanoscale nature of nanosilver (whether used in packaging or food) is also not likely to be dangerous to consumer’s health. 

·         An independent peer review agreed with the overall analysis and conclusions of both reports stating that they were appropriately balanced in their reporting and that none of the nanotechnologies described are of health concern.

Read more: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/foodtech/Pages/Reports-on-the-use-of-nanotechnology-in-food-additives-and-packaging-.aspx