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FDA/EFSA - Regulatory and Safety Concerns Regarding the Use of Active Nanomaterials in Food Industry


Aug 30, 2023

Last but not least, one of the main worries about using nanoparticles in the food business is safety. As a result, this chapter discusses risk assessment as well as safety standards for using nanomaterials in the food and agriculture industries. Innovation in nanotechnology resulted in the emergence of numerous nano-based scientific and industrial fields, as well as goods utilizing nanomaterials. However, the use of nanotechnology in the food industry has brought up ethical and regulatory concerns as well as safety concerns for people and the environment. Nanomaterials differ biologically and physiologically from their usual form, which can have unforeseen and dangerous effects. Even though the food sector has extensively researched the nanoencapsulation technology of bioactive chemicals, the dangerous effects of nanomaterials when consumed orally remain a big worry. Depending on how susceptible a nanocarrier is to being hydrolyzed by different digestive enzymes and gastrointestinal tract circumstances, the environment of the gastrointestinal tract mostly determines the fate of the nanocarrier. However, since unbound nanocarriers are able to pass through intestinal and cellular barriers, the bioaccumulation of foreign substances in human blood, cells, and tissues increases. Due to their toxicity, the organic solvents and emulsifiers utilized in the manufacture of nanocarriers raise the risk factor. Organic solvents can be eliminated by the evaporation process, however unanticipated residual solvents that may remain in the finished product and have an unknown concentration create safety concerns. The safe usage level of hazardous solvents and emulsifiers has been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). There is little evidence now available about the risk of nanotechnology, so further research is needed to estimate the risk. Exploring nanomaterials direct and indirect effects on human health is necessary, as well as their behavior in the gastrointestinal tract, biological fate after digestion, and potential interactions with biological systems. To safeguard the general population from any potential negative effects of nanotechnology, regulatory measures are necessary. Several world organizations regulate issues related to the effect of nanomaterials used in food on consumer health. As there is a lack of regulation and risk management systems for nanotechnology, the safety of nanomaterials in the food industry can be assured by information transparency and new nanotechnology regulations. Moreover, the small size of nanomaterials can enhance their bioaccumulation in body organs and tissues, i.e., silica nanoparticles are used as anticaking agents but proved to be cytotoxic when exposed to human lungs. Dissolution can be affected by various factors like surface energy, particle surface morphology, aggregation, adsorption, and concentration. A migration study of nanoparticles from food packaging demonstrated the migration of copper and silver from nanocomposites and found that nanofiller percentage in nanocomposites governs the migration more than particle size, contact time, or temperature. Different nanomaterials have different properties, so toxicity can be studied on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, regulatory bodies should develop the standards to ensure the quality of commercial products, health and safety, and environmental regulations.

Author(s):  Singh, R and Kumar, S.

Published in: Nanotechnology Advancement in Agro-Food Industry


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