EFSA publishes opinion on nano risk

Source of Article:  http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_031109.htm

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its scientific opinion on nanoscience and nanotechnologies in relation to food and feed safety. EFSA’s Scientific Committee (SC) has concluded that established international approaches to risk assessment can also be applied to engineered nano materials (ENM). However, the SC also concluded that a case-by-case approach would be necessary and that, in practice, current data limitations and a lack of validated test methodologies could make risk assessment of specific nano products very difficult and subject to a high degree of uncertainty.

This opinion focuses on the use of nanotechnologies, particularly ENMs, in the food and feed chain. It elaborates on approaches and methodologies available for risk assessment of these very small particles but does not address any specific applications of particular ENMs. The European Commission (EC) asked for this opinion because consideration needs to be given as to whether existing risk assessment approaches can be appropriately applied to this new technology.

The EFSA SC recommends that additional research and investigation is needed to address the many current uncertainties and data limitations. Specific recommendations include the following:

  • Investigating the interaction and stability of ENMs in food and feed, in the gastro-intestinal tract and in biological tissues.
  • Developing and validating routine methods to detect, characterize, and quantify ENMs in food contact materials, food, and feed.
  • Developing, improving, and validating test methodologies to assess toxicity of ENMs (including reliability and relevance of test methods).

“The Scientific Committee has concluded that in principle it is possible to undertake risk assessments in this emerging scientific area by making use of available international approaches,” said Vittorio Silano, Chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee. “However, given current data gaps and limitations in a number of cases, it may be very difficult to provide fully satisfactory conclusions.”

EFSA opinion

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