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Posted: March 19, 2009
European Parliament discusses tougher scrutiny of food nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) 'Nanofood' doesn't sound incredibly tasty but the chances are that you have already eaten food produced using nanotechnology - the manipulation of materials one-millionth the size of a pinhead. It is increasingly used in additives, flouring or anti-bacterial ingredients for food. On Tuesday Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will debate a report from the Environment Committee ("On the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods and amending Regulation") that wants risk assessments nanofoods and calls for labelling if used. The report also rejects any use of food from cloned animals.
Nanotechnology is favoured by many food producers as it can ensure food stays fresh longer and reduces sensitivity to heat, making transport easier.
Tuesday's debate in Strasbourg forms part of the review of the "Novel foods regulation" which covers food not eaten widely in the European Union before May 1997, when the legislation on novel foods was first established.
The use of nanotechnology in foods falls into this category and many MEPs on the Environment Committee are concerned that the impact on human health has not been properly investigated.
Dutch MEP Kartika-Tamara Liotard is guiding the legislation through Parliament. She told us "at the moment, without the consumer being aware, a lot of food products and packaging already contain nanomaterials, even though there is no legislation and no uniform risk assessment procedure." She said the safety of the consumer must be paramount.