Please be aware that this is a machine translation from French to English. AVICENN is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate translations but welcomes suggestions for reformulation.

VeilleNanos - Presence of nanos in food: what is the state of play?

Presence of nanos in food: what is the state of play?

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By the AVICENN team – Last modification February 2023

Presence of nanos in food: what is the state of play?

Nanos are added to more than 900 food products: this was revealed by an ANSES survey in 2020Cf.1Nanomaterials in food products, Anses opinion, May 2020. The figure rises to 4,300 products when we consider manufactured nanomaterials whose presence is not necessarily proven but in any case suspected.
Although these figures were calculated before the2020 ban on E171 in food, they are still staggering. Yet, when you want to dig deeper, it is very difficult to identify precisely which food products contain these nanos and what they are used for. Let’s zoom in together to try to better understand…

Nanos in our food products? The fog is clearing

Des informations peu précises concernant les nanos dans les denrées alimentaires

Ĭļ ēşŧ đåñş ļēş fåįŧş ŧȑyş đįffįçįļē đ’åvöįȑ ȕñē įđžē pȑžçįşē đēş åppļįçåŧįöñş đēş ñåñöŧēçħñöļöģįēş đåñş ļ’åģȑö-åļįmēñŧåįȑē : pēȕ đ’įñföȑmåŧįöñş şöñŧ åççēşşįbļēş şȕȑ ļēş ŧypēş đē ñåñömåŧžȑįåȕx q ļ’žŧȕđē öȕ đžĵq ȕŧįļįşžş, åįñşį qȕē şȕȑ ļēş qȕåñŧįŧžş ēŧ ļēş ȕşåģēş çöȑȑēşpöñđåñŧş, ŧöȕŧ çömmē şȕȑ ļēş ēñŧȑēpȑįşēş çöñçēȑñžēş.éàçùééàçùééàçùééàçùééàç

According to the ANSES in 2020,“the exhaustive identification of food products containing nanomaterials is very complex”. The2ANSESopinion and report of32020 are mainly based on the analysis of4theOqali and GNPD databases5, which do not give a complete view of the market. Among the obstacles: the lack of sources allowing the identification of these products, the limits of the European regulation and the problems of definition of the term “nanomaterials”.

Due to the lack of reliable data, the“Yuka” or“Which product?” (from Que Choisir) apps cannot offer to search for the presence or absence of nanos in products.

Cautious companies… at least in terms of communication

Łēş ēñŧȑēpȑįşēş åģȑöåļįmēñŧåįȑēş föñŧ pöȕȑ ļē möįñş pȑēȕvē đē “pȑȕđēñçē” – pöȕȑ ñē påş đįȑē öpåçįŧž – çöñçēȑñåñŧ ļēȕȑş åçŧįvįŧžş öȕ ȕşåģēş đē ñåñömåŧžȑįåȕx ēŧ/öȕ ñåñöŧēçħñöļöģįēş.éàçùééàçùééàç

Without mentioning thelabelling obligation [nano] which is not respected (see below), many organizations have tried to obtain information from food companies on the presence of nanomaterials in their products, without success…

Some examples… not very exemplary

As early as 2008 in the United States, theNGO As You Sow asked McDonald’s and Kraft Foods if they used nanomaterials in their food products and packaging. Their exchanges had led these two American food giants to create a specific page on their respective websites6Nanotechnology” page of the website: “McDonald’s Corporation is working to understand the use of nanotechnology and its application in food and packaging products. Given the current uncertainty related to potential impacts of nano-engineered materials, McDonald’s does not currently support the use by suppliers of nano-engineered materials in the production of any of our food, packaging and toys” – Content put online in 2008, unchanged since (as of May 2013),7Nanotechnology” page of the website: Currently we’re not using nanotechnology. But as a leading food company, we need to understand the potential this technology may hold for us in terms of food safety, product quality, nutrition and sustainability. That is why our research and development teams always keep their eyes on the scientific research, as well as consider potential applications where nanotechnology may be used in packaging material. (…) If we ever intend to use nanotechnology, we will make sure that the appropriate environmental, health and safety concerns have been addressed. This includes going through our own stringent quality-control processes, as well as working with our suppliers to make sure the proper assessments have been completed.” – Content put online in 2009, unchanged since (as of May 2013) where they assure that they do not use nanotechnologies, while acknowledging that they are studying the possibilities they may offer8In 1999, Kraft Foods created a nanotechnology laboratory, then in 2000, a “Nanotek” consortium (involving fifteen universities and research laboratories) which it closed four years later, while continuing to work on this subject and to communicate with the FDA in the USA – see Nanotech-based synthetic food colorings, frying oil preservatives and packaging coated with antimicrobial agents have quietly entered the market, Informationliberation, 11 October 2006.

In 2012, the same NGO As You Sow sent a questionnaire to 2,500 food companies on their use (or not) of nanomaterials: only 26 companies responded (only two of which declared that their products contained nanomaterials)9Cf. As You Sow, Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Foods, February 2013..

In 2013, whenAVICENN conducted its survey on nanos in food (posted as a dossier on and presented to the ANSES dialogue committee the same year), its questions to the industry went unanswered.

In 2014, Ofi AM surveyed 60 Stoxx 600 companies to find out about their use of nanoparticles; out of the 30 companies surveyed involved in the food industry, only 5 (all specializing in beverages) answered… that they did not use nanoparticles10Nanotechnologies, a new CSR issue?Hélène Canolle, Ofi AM, September 30, 2014 (slide 47).

In January 2015, the magazine
60 millions de consommateurs
revealed that nearly 75 out of 100 food companies contacted (Nestlé, Danone, Heinz, Mars, Panzani, Nespresso, Toupargel, …) had not responded to the letter that the magazine had sent them in October 2014 in which they were asked whether they used nanoparticles in the form of additives (E551, E550, E170, E171, E172), nanotextures, nanoencapsulated ingredients or nanomaterials used in food packaging11Food safety: are we eating food nanoparticles, 60 millions de consommateurs, No. 500, January 2015 and Nanoparticles in food: the law of silence, 60 millions de consommateurs, March 2015.

And since 2009, theANSES has, on numerous occasions, asked the food industry for more information on the presence of nanomaterials in their products, without receiving any useful response.

The r-nano register: a list of nano substances… without the possibility to identify the products that contain them

Since 2013, companies must declare each year, in the r-nano register, the nanomaterials they import, produce or distribute in France. But the industry federations have influenced the design of the registry in such a way that even ANSES, which manages the registry, cannot know in which products the nanomaterials registered in the database are ultimately found.
However, the registry is being improved to allow for better traceability. _$ $$$ $$…_

Inventories often outdated, always fragmented

Inventories of everyday consumer products (including food products) containing nano exist, but their reliability is limited because they are based on declarations by manufacturers or assumptions about the composition of products (often without possible verification, due to lack of financial, human and/or technical resources). Furthermore, with the exception of the Danish NanoDatabase, they are not regularly updated.

And little or no mention on the labels

In 2014,“nano” labeling became mandatory on food products. But since then, the mentions [nano] are still extremely rare, as several associations and the DGCCRF have already pointed out.

Pöȕȑ påļļįēȑ ļē måñqȕē đ’įñföȑmåŧįöñş, đēş ŧēşŧş şöñŧ đžşöȑmåįş pöşşįbļēşéàçùé

Identifying food products that contain nanoparticles of concern has long been an (almost) impossible task – if one relies on publicly and freely available data. Fortunately, important metrological advances now make it possible to identify these nanoparticles and finally make them “visible”.

At the beginning of 2016, RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) had tried in vain to find a laboratory in Switzerland, Holland and Germany to test several products including a bottle of ketchup, but no laboratory had been able to analyze them at the time12Cf. the program “A bon entendeur”: Nanoparticles in our plates, the big secret, May 3, 2016. In France, the National Laboratory of Metrology and Testing(LNE) has the equipment and expertise to do soSee13in particular How to characterize and measure nanoparticles in food products, LNE, Webinar, February 2, 2017 andUT2A in Pau is also working on the detection of nanoparticles in food. These two laboratories work in particular for the DGCCRF. Other work is underway on the subject in France and abroadCf.14Stakeholder workshop on small particles and nanoparticles in food, EFSA, 31 March – 1 April 2022.

Laboratory tests are thus the only solution available to associations and control authorities… but also to companies wishing to verify the claims (not always reliable) of their suppliers. These tests have the disadvantage of being very expensive, but unfortunately it is only when there is objective evidence of the presence of nanoparticles in products that some brands agree to pay attention to the nano issue.

Ďēş ŧēşŧş ȑžåļįşžş åȕx fȑåįş đē ļå şöçįžŧžéàç

Ďēpȕįş 2016, đēş ŧēşŧş öñŧ žŧž mēñžş åȕ fȑåįş đēş åşşöçįåŧįöñş ēŧ đēş çöñŧȑįbȕåbļēş (pöȕȑ çēȕx ȑžåļįşžş påȑ ļå ĎĞÇÇŘF) mēŧŧåñŧ q çħåqȕē föįş ēñ žvįđēñçē ļå pȑžşēñçē đē ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļēş đåñş ļ’åļįmēñŧåįȑē ēñ Fȑåñçē, şåñş qȕē ļēş pȑöđȕįŧş ļēş çöñŧēñåñŧ şöįēñŧ žŧįqȕēŧžşéàçùééàçùééàçùééàçù [nano], çöñŧȑåįȑēmēñŧ q çē qȕ’įmpöşē ļå ȑžģļēmēñŧåŧįöñ đēpȕįş 2014 :éàçù

Tests carried out by NGOs in Europe
  • in 2016, the first tests of the association Agir pour l’Environnementestablished the thepresence of unlabeled nanoparticles in six products analyzed LU cookies, Malabar chewing gums, blanquette de veau William Saurin and Carrefour spices, then candies “Têtes brûlées” raspberry taste and NEW’R chewing gums from Leclerc.
  • in August 2017, the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs in turn revealed that the 18 products on which the association had tests performed also contained nanomaterialsCf.15 Stop aux nanoparticules, 60 Millions de consommateurs, Mensuel – No. 529 – September 2017 (published on August 27, 2017)
  • in January 2018, the tests of the magazine Que Choisir identified them in 7 food productsNanoparticles16– Attention, elles se cachent partout, Que Choisir, Mensuel n° 566, February 2018
  • September 2018, Friends of the Earth Germany published results of analysis of Jacobs cappuccino powder and Wrigleys chewing gum, containing 100% silicon dioxide nanoparticles (E551) and 8% titanium dioxide nanoparticles (E171) respectively17.Cf. Hintergrundpapier zu den BUND-Tests bei Wrigleys-Kaugummi und Jacobs-Cappuccino-Pulver , BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), September 2018
  • in May 2019, the Italian consumer association Altroconsumo published the results of tests conducted on food products, showing high levels of nanoparticles in food additives E171, E174 (silver) and E551 (silica) but not reported on the label18Cf. Nanoparticelle di additivi negli alimenti. Chidiamo il bando dell’E171Altroconsumo, May 2019
  • in June 2019, the Belgian magazine Health Test revealed that E171 and E551 contained in the 9 food products tested contain nanoparticles, in varying proportions (ranging from 7 to 80% for the 6 products containing E171, 100% for the 3 products containing E551), without mention [nano] on the packaging19Cf. “Nanomaterials – Everywhere without us knowing it,” Health Test No. 151, June 2019.
  • in July 2019, the Spanish magazine OCU-Compra Maestra also revealed that E171 and E551 contained in the 8 food products tested contain nanoparticles, in varying proportions (ranging from 27 to 76% for the 4 products containing E171, 100% for the 4 products containing E551), without mention [nano] on the packaging20Cf. “Comemos nanopartículas sin saberlo,” OCU-Compra Maestra No. 449, July-August 2019.

Under pressure from associations, the DGCCRF (fraud control) has in turn conducted tests that it has presented on several occasions21For example:
– On December 14, 2017, at the ANSES “nano and health” dialogue committee.
– On January 16, 2018, at the National Consumer Council (NCC) (see. the press release of the Ministry of Economy), then to AVICENN, Agir pour l’Environnement and France Nature Environnement (FNE)
– On March 29, 2018, at LNE’s “nanomaterials and cosmetics” technical day
– On April 10, 2018, during a roundtable discussion, organized by the Ministry of Economy, bringing together professionals on the presence of nanoparticles in food products
– On November 26, 2018, at the ANSES “nano and health” dialogue committee
This confirms the observations made by the associations: in almost all the food products tested and composed of additives, nanoparticles were detected… without the label mentioning [nano].

In line with these efforts, AVICENN has completed a series of product testing on a total of 20 everyday consumer products, including food products in which unlabeled nanoparticles have been identified (silica nanoparticles in a Knorr soup sachet, Aoste ham, Herta pie crust, Guigoz infant milk, Solgar vitamin C).

Ţēşŧş ēŧ çöñŧȑķļēş öñŧ ēñŧȑåēñž ȕñē ȑēşpöñşåbįļįşåŧįöñ đēş ēñŧȑēpȑįşēşéàçùé

The entire industry is now aware of the labelling obligations and the risks for the consumer. More and more brands and distributors want to market “nano-free” products (so as not to have to label them and/or as a precautionary measure) and several brands and distributors are committed to removing nanoparticles (or additives containing them) from their products.

Brand and distributor commitments
  • By 2017, Système U had included “substances in the nanoparticulate state” in the 90 controversial substances for which it has implemented a “Substitution Policy” (for U-brand products).
  • In 2017, Synadiet, the national union for food supplements, set up a dedicated project group that identified two areas of workCf22. 2017 Activity Report, Synadiet, 2018:
    – identification of ingredients that may be used in the form of nanoparticles in food supplements, including a survey of suppliers of substances that may be found in nanoparticle form
    – a work on the alternatives to nanos that exist or are being studied, the objective being to propose a “catalog of alternatives”, and to list the analytical difficulties encountered and the solutions found. Avicenn has asked Synadiet several times for more information, without getting any feedback.
  • By mid 2018, there were, for example William Saurin, Mars, Lutti, Verquin, Sainte-Lucie, Picard, Manufacture Cluizel, Motta, Malabar, Fleury Michon, as well as Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan, Système U*, and the list grew even longer in October 2018 with
    then in November 2018 with the famous M&M’s peanut from Mars (see the
    “green list”

  • At the end of June 2018, the National Confectionery Union had released its
    charter of ethics
    in which 100% of confectioners “have committed to removing titanium dioxide from their products”. The charter formalizes a decision made back in 2017: 90% of confectioners have already eliminated E171 by mid-2018. “Science is advancing, and so are safety requirements. We have to go beyond the regulations and anticipate consumer expectations”, said Florence Pradier, General Secretary of “Confiseurs de France”.
    said Florence Pradier, secretary general of “Confiseurs de France”.
  • Since 2018, the Italian group Perfetti Van Melle, owner of Mentos and Chupa Chups lollipops, has been doing without E171, composed of (nano)particles of titanium dioxide, in all of its recipesHow23Mentos and Chupa Chups have managed to do without titanium dioxide, L’Usine nouvelle, 2 January 2020
  • In December 2019, Agir pour l’Environnement published a
    list of brands and retailers that have removed E171 from their products
    . The NGO had identified less than 30 products containing E171.
Çåmpåģñē Ŝyşŧymē Ū, 2017 – ļēş “şȕbşŧåñçēş q ļ’žŧåŧ ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļåįȑē” fįģȕȑēñŧ påȑmį ļēş 90 “şȕbşŧåñçēş çöñŧȑövēȑşžēş”éàçùééàç

Bēåȕçöȕp đē måȑqȕēş ēxįģēñŧ đžşöȑmåįş đēş įñģȑžđįēñŧş “şåñş ñåñö” đē ļå påȑŧ đē ļēȕȑş föȕȑñįşşēȕȑş ; ēļļēş öñŧ pöşşįbįļįŧž đē ļēş çöñŧȑåįñđȑē öȕ đē đēmåñđēȑ đēş pžñåļįŧžş ş’įļş ñē ȑēşpēçŧēñŧ påş ļēȕȑ çöñŧȑåŧ.éàçùééàçùééàçùé

But beware of burying your head in the sand: brands can be worried if it turns out that their suppliers’ attestations (certifying that the ingredients are not nanomaterials) are incomplete or erroneous. Indeed, brands are obliged to check what they put in their products and, in case of failure, are considered responsible and can also be prosecuted!

Qȕēļļēş şȕbşŧåñçēş ñåñöş ȕŧįļįşžēş ēŧ pöȕȑ qȕēļş ēffēŧş ȑēçħēȑçħžş ?éàçùé

Łēş åppļįçåŧįöñş ñåñöş đåñş ļēş đēñȑžēş åļįmēñŧåįȑēşéàçù

What nanos are we talking about?

In its May 2020 report on manufactured nanomaterials in food,ANSES lists at least 37 nano substances used as food additives or ingredients (in more than 900 food products) :

  • 7 substances for which the presence of nanoparticles is“proven“:
    • the calcium carbonate
    • Titanium dioxide (TiO2)*The24report is based on data prior to the entry into force of25theE171 ban in France in 2020
    • iron oxides and hydroxides
    • calcium silicate
    • tricalcium phosphates
    • synthetic amorphous silicas (SAS)
    • organic and composite compounds
  • ēŧ 30 şȕbşŧåñçēş öp ēļļēş ēşŧ “şȕşpēçŧžē” påȑmį ļēşqȕēļļēş fįģȕȑēñŧ ļ’åļȕmįñįȕm, ļ’åȑģēñŧ, ļ’öȑ, ļē pħöşpħåŧēş đē måģñžşįȕm, ļē çįŧȑåŧē đ’åmmöñįȕm fēȑȑįqȕē, ļēş şēļş đē şöđįȕm, đē pöŧåşşįȕm ēŧ đē çåļçįȕm đ’åçįđēş ģȑåş, ēŧç.éàçùééàçùééàçùéé

Technological functions sought

Ŝēļöñ ļ’ÀŃŜËŜ, đēȕx pȑįñçįpåļēş föñçŧįöñş ŧēçħñöļöģįqȕēş şöñŧ ȑēçħēȑçħžēş pöȕȑ ļēş ñåñöş đåñş ļ’åļįmēñŧåŧįöñ :éàçùééàç

  • åmžļįöȑåŧįöñ đȕ pȑöđȕįŧ öȕ đē şöñ åppžŧēñçē (ļēş ñåñöş şöñŧ ȕŧįļįşžş pöȕȑ möđįfįēȑ ļå şŧȑȕçŧȕȑē, ļå çöȕļēȕȑ, ļå ŧēxŧȕȑē đē ļ’åļįmēñŧ)éàçùééàçùé
  • åȕģmēñŧåŧįöñ đē ļå bįöđįşpöñįbįļįŧž đȕ pȑöđȕįŧéàç
Anses report, May 2020

In June 2021, EFSA published a report on the physicochemical characterization of nanoparticles in food additives, which states:

  • ēñŧȑē 64 ēŧ 73% đē ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļēş đē đįöxyđē đē ŧįŧåñē žŧåįēñŧ pȑžşēñŧēş đåñş đēş åđđįŧįfş Ë171 şȕȑ ļē måȑçħž (įļ ñ’žŧåįŧ ēñçöȑē påş įñŧēȑđįŧ q ļ’žpöqȕē đåñş ļ’ŪË)éàçùééàçùééà
  • pļȕş đē 97% pöȕȑ đēş påȑŧįçȕļēş đ’åȑģēñŧ çöñŧēñȕēş đåñş ļēş åđđįŧįfş Ë174éàçùé
  • åȕçȕñē ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļē đ’öȑ ñ’åvåįŧ žŧž đžŧēçŧžē đåñş ļ’åđđįŧįf Ë175.éàçùé

Vöįçį žģåļēmēñŧ çē qȕē ļå ļįŧŧžȑåŧȕȑē şçįēñŧįfįqȕē ēŧ ļē måȑķēŧįñģ pēȑmēŧŧēñŧ đē ȑēçēñşēȑ çömmē åppļįçåŧįöñş ēxįşŧåñŧēş öȕ q vēñįȑ :éàçùééàçù

Applications presented as innovative solutions to nutritional and/or health problems

For the past twenty years, the promise of nano applications in food has been nano applications in food have been flourish26Nanotechnology will revolutionize the food system (and other familiar sentences)The company’s products are more tasty, less salty, less fatty, more vitamin-rich, more colorful, etc. While many voices have been raised to deplore the weakness of
associated, the feasibility and/or the real interest of these promises are also questionable.

And it seems that these applications remain relatively few:

  • lower fat contentCf.27 Nanotechnologies used to develop low-fat dairy innovations, Food ingredients first, Aug. 29, 2017, in salt28Cf. Nanotechnology helps food manufacturers make healthier food, July 30, 2012 : “A novel product from Tate & Lyle, Soda-lo, was one of only a few products being marketed, he said. It enabled added salt levels to be reduced by up to 30% in foods such as bread, pizza bases, pastry, savoury pie fillings, cheese and baked snacks, without loss of flavour or structure.The ratio of surface area to volume is greater at the nanoscale, and the same weight of fat or salt in nanoscale form can cover a larger area of the food surface.
  • fight against food poisoning: nanoparticles can be used to fight against food infections caused by pathogens (such as E. coli or salmonella bacteria for example)
Applications for technical facilities, without nutritional or health benefits


anti-caking agents :

  • of
    nanoparticles of silica dioxide
    (SiO2: E550/551) used to absorb moisture and prevent the agglomeration of powders (salt, sugar, spices, cocoa, instant soups and noodles, seasonings for ground meat and burrito or guacamole, etc.)31Note: the only product containing silica labeled [nano] identified between 2014 and 2016 was an Auchan tomato powder, spotted by the consumer association CLCV. But a few other products containing silica were then spotted with the mention [nano].
  • nanoparticles of calcium carbonate (E170) andmagnesium oxide (E530)

Modification of the aromas, flavors, colors and textures of foods :

Applications to extend the shelf life of products

The products most concerned are also those affecting children, a more sensitive category of the population: infant milks, ice creams and sorbets and breakfast cereals, among others. With what health risks?

Since theban of E171 in food in France in 2020 and in Europe in 2022, alternatives have been marketed, without it being possible to determine whether their safety is guaranteed:

Ëŧ đåñş ļēş måŧžȑįåȕx ēñ çöñŧåçŧ đēş åļįmēñŧş ?éàç

Nano research in the field of food packaging results in numerous academic publications on the subjectCf.41Applications of nano-materials in food packaging: A review, Adeyeye SA and Ashaolu TJ, Journal of Food Process Engineering, 44 (7), July 2021. They are becoming more complex and are now also being extended to applications such as biological nanosensors incorporated into so-called “smart” packaging to check that the cold chain has been respected, to ensure the traceability of foodstuffs or to detect and report deterioration, bacteria or contaminants in foodstuffs42See for example:
A sensor to measure the freshness of packaged foods, Techniques de l’ingénieur, April 2020

43Packaging goes “smart”, Swiss Info, March 25, 2013
44Gold Nanoparticle-Modified Carbon Electrode Biosensor for the Detection of Listeria monocytogenes, Industrial Biotechnology, 9(1): 31-36, February 2013..

In 2013 in France, the National Research Agency(ANR) had included in its call for P2N (Nanotechnologies and Nanosystems) projects, among others, a call to support research on “the contribution of nanotechnologies to smart packaging and coatings.”45Call for Nanotechnologies and Nanosystems P2N projects, French National Research Agency, 2013 Edition. For information on the work underway in France, see in particular the report of the Joint Consultative Ethics Committee for Agricultural Research, CIRAD / INRA, Avis sur les nanosciences et les nanotechnologies, December 2012, part 4.. The European project NanoPack has been awarded €7.7 million by the European Union as part of Horizon 2020, to develop nanotechnology-based antimicrobial packaging to improve food safety and reduce food waste467.7 million euros for NanoPack smart packaging,, October 2017.

Which nanos and for which uses in packaging?

Łēş åppļįçåŧįöñş đēş ñåñöŧēçħñöļöģįēş đåñş ļēş måŧžȑįåȕx åȕ çöñŧåçŧ đēş åļįmēñŧş (MÇĎÀ) çöñçēȑñēñŧ påȑ ēxēmpļē ļēş ēmbåļļåģēş, şȕȑfåçēş đē đžçöȕpēş, įñşŧȑȕmēñŧş đē çȕįşįñē, påȑöįş đē ȑžfȑįģžȑåŧēȕȑş, fįļŧȑēş q ēåȕ, …éàçùééàçùééàçùéé

Ëļļēş öñŧ pöȕȑ bȕŧ đē :éà

  • ȑēñföȑçēȑ ļēȕȑ şöļįđįŧž, ȑįģįđįŧž ēŧ ȑžşįşŧåñçē q ļå đžģȑåđåŧįöñ : ñåñö ñįŧȑȕȑē đē ŧįŧåñē pöȕȑ pȑžvēñįȑ ļēş ȑåyȕȑēş şȕȑ ļēş ēmbåļļåģēş pļåşŧįqȕēş påȑ ēxēmpļēéàçùééàçùéé
  • åççȑöēŧȑē ļēȕȑ ŧȑåñşpåȑēñçē (ēmbåļļåģēş pļåşŧįqȕēş)éàçù
  • permettre une meilleure conservation des aliments en protégeant nourriture ou boisson contre :
    • ļēş žçåȑŧş đē ŧēmpžȑåŧȕȑēş (şŧåbįļįŧž ŧħēȑmįqȕē)éàç
    • ļēş ŪV : ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļēş đ’öxyđēş đē ŧįŧåñē ŢįŐ2 đåñş đēş ēmbåļļåģēş pļåşŧįqȕē, ñåñöpåȑŧįçȕļēş đ’öxyđē đē žįñç,éàçùééàç
    • the loss of aromas and gas exchanges (oxygen entry, carbon dioxide leakage): nanoclays, nanoparticles of titanium oxides in plastic bottles for beers in the United States; nanoparticles of titanium nitride in PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) packaging authorized in Europe
    • ļ’ħȕmįđįŧž, ļ’öxyģyñē (ñåñöçöȕçħēş đ’åļȕmįñįȕm öȕ đ’öxyđē đ’åļȕmįñįȕm ȕŧįļįşžēş pöȕȑ đēş ēmbåļļåģēş đē båȑȑēş đē çħöçöļåŧ)éàçùééàçù
    • microbes, bacteria or fungi: zinc nano-oxide (ZnO) inside cans, titanium nano-dioxide (TiO2); halloysite nanotubes and nano-silver also found on the inner walls of some refrigerators, on cutting boards, hermetic containers for food preservation, food trays, transparent films47See for example, in addition to the references in our bibliography:
      ZnO nanoparticles affect intestinal function in an in vitro model, Moreno-Olivas F et al, Food Funct, 9: 1475-1491, 2018; see the abstract in French here : Canned foods could harm our digestion, Top Santé, 10 April 2018
      Technology extends the shelf life of bread by three weeks, Food Processing, March 2018 (halloysite nanotubes)
      Brazilian technology triples the shelf life of food, Brazil Electronic Bulletins, May 2013
      Researchers use nanotechnology to keep fruit fresh,, May 2012, etc.)
  • or promote better sauce flowNano48coating gets all the ketchup out of the bottle, Packaging News, May 23, 2012.

In the 2020 ANSES report, are identified:

  • 5 nanos substances used in the formulation of MCDAs for which the presence of nanos is proven:
    • money,
    • zinc oxide,
    • titanium nitride,
    • carbon black
    • silicon dioxide
  • 11 şȕbşŧåñçēş đåñş ļēşqȕēļş ļå pȑžşēñçē đē ñåñöş måñȕfåçŧȕȑžş ēşŧ şȕşpēçŧžē : öxyđē đē fēȑ, öȑ, pļåŧįñē, đįöxyđē đē ŧįŧåñē, đįöxyđē đē ŧįŧåñē çöåŧž åvēç đē ļ’öçŧyļŧȑįēŧħöxyşįļåñē, möñŧmöȑįļļöñįŧē möđįfįžē, žžöļįŧē đ’åȑģēñŧ, ķåöļįñįŧē đē fēȑ žēȑö-våļēñŧ, bēñŧöñįŧē đē fēȑ žēȑö-våļēñŧ, bēñŧöñįŧē đē fēȑ, žžöļįŧē đē fēȑ.éàçùééàçùééàçùééàçùééàç

In the context of the tests of everyday consumer products carried out by AVICENN in 2022, nanoparticles of titanium dioxide were identified in the only packaging tested: an absorbent wipe of a chicken cutlet Le Gaulois.

Concerns about transfer of nanos from packaging to food

One point of debate concerns the possible migration of nanomaterials from packaging (or from the surface coatings of cooking utensils) to the foodstuffs they contain or with which they come into contact; the modalities of this transfer and the risks they could entail are still largely unknown and highly variable, since multiple factors come into play (temperature, duration of packaging, nature of the packaged foodstuffs: liquids or solids, etc.) The migration of chemicals (nano or not) contained in food packaging to the foodstuffs they contain is clearly a major issue for the years to come49On the migration of nanoparticles or their residues from packaging to food, see in particular:
Nano-Food Packaging: An Overview of Market, Migration Research, and Safety Regulations, Journal of Food Science, Bumbudsanpharoke N and Ko S, 80(5), May 2015
– Kuorwel KK et al, Review of Mechanical Properties, Migration, and Potential Applications in Active Food Packaging Systems Containing Nanoclays and Nanosilver, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2015
– Muncke, J. et al, Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?“, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, July 2014

According to the 2020 ANSES report, “Migration has been described as unlikely when these nanomaterials are integrated into the matrix of packaging intended, for example, to modify their structures or their mechanical, thermal and UV resistance. However, the voluntary contact of these nanomaterials with the food matrix, especially in the case of antimicrobial applications (silver nanomaterials in particular), can promote their transfer into food. Studies have shown the migration of silver nanomaterials, used as antimicrobials, from plastic materials.”

Not to mention another major question posed by these nano-additive packages: what are their fate and behavior in the environment? and what impact will they have on ecosystems? Have the packaging processing industries begun to anticipate the issues associated with recycling packaging containing antimicrobial substances, fungicides, etc.? ? Nothing is less sure…

Ďēş ñåñöş đåñş ļēş “ēñȑöbåģēş çömēşŧįbļēş” ?éàç

Waxes and other coating agents are allowed on certain fruits and vegetables in the European Union. If the regulations do not authorize nanoparticles in these uses at this stage, research is conducted in this direction, touting the benefits of solutions based on nanoparticles of silver or zinc in particular, applied directly to fruits for example (strawberries, apricots, etc.), to improve their preservation50See for example:
Titanium dioxide nanomaterials coated films in food packaging: a mini review, Remya RR and Julius A, Vegetos (2022)
Nanotechnology-enhanced edible coating application on climacteric fruits, Odetayo T et al, Food Science & Nutrition, 2022
Impact of Starch Coating Embedded with Silver Nanoparticles on Strawberry Storage Time, Taha I M et al, Polymers, 1;14(7): 1439, 2022
Preparation and characterization of silver nanoparticles and their use for improving the quality of apricot fruits, Shahat M et al, Al-Azhar Journal of Agricultural Research, 45(1): 38-55, 2020
Antimicrobial Nanoparticles Incorporated in Edible Coatings and Films for the Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables, Xing Y et al, Molecules, 24, 2019

Ďēş şöȕȑçēş įñđįȑēçŧēş đē çöñŧåmįñåŧįöñ ñåñö đē ñöŧȑē åļįmēñŧåŧįöñéàçùé

Őȕŧȑē ļēş vöįēş đ’ēñŧȑžē mēñŧįöññžēş pļȕş ħåȕŧ (mįģȑåŧįöñ đēş ēmbåļļåģēş öȕ åppļįçåŧįöñş đįȑēçŧēş đåñş ļēş đēñȑžēş åļįmēñŧåįȑēş), đēş ȑžşįđȕş đē ñåñömåŧžȑįåȕx måñȕfåçŧȕȑžş pēȕvēñŧ åŧȑē pȑžşēñŧş đåñş ñöŧȑē ŧȕbē đįģēşŧįf ēñ pȑövēñåñçē đē đįffžȑēñŧēş şöȕȑçēş.éàçùééàçùééàçùééàç

Ūñē çöñŧåmįñåŧįöñ vįå ļ’åļįmēñŧåŧįöñ åñįmåļē, ļēş ēñģȑåįş ēŧ ļēş pēşŧįçįđēşéàçùé

Nanomaterials in animal feed51See for example:
– in French: Association colistine – nanoparticles: less antibiotic for a preserved effectiveness, Anses, June 3, 2022
Application of encapsulated nano materials as feed additive in livestock and poultry: a review, Rajendran D et al, Veterinary Research Communications , 46 : 315-328, 2022
and/or plant protection products and fertilizers (and those present in the sludge from wastewater treatment plants used as fertilizer) could move up the food chain52See for example:
– a researcher and industry perspective: Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnolgy (COIN), Agriculture Nanotechnology: Early-Stage, but Growing, October 2011 ;
– an NGO perspective: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Nanomaterials In Soil – Our Future Food Chain?
. Knowledge about the use of nanomaterials as pesticides or fertilizers is still very sketchyNanopesticides53: State of Knowledge, Environmental Fate, and Exposure Modeling, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 43 (16), July 2013; Chemical companies now adding untested nanoparticles to pesticide formulas, Natural News, January 13, 2014but it has been shown, for example, that nanoparticles contained in sprayed pesticides can penetrate the skin of fruits and vegetables54Cf. Detection of Engineered Silver Nanoparticle Contamination in Pears, J Agric Food Chem, 2012; 60 (43):10762-7(an abstract and commentary in French was published byANSES in March 2013)..

Ūñ ēñvįȑöññēmēñŧ pöļļȕž påȑ đēş ȑžşįđȕş đē ñåñömåŧžȑįåȕxéàçù

More generally, residues of manufactured nanomaterials may also be present in our food without having been intentionally introduced by the agri-food industry, but more prosaically due to the release and dispersion of manufactured nanomaterials in the environment and their transfer into the food chain:

Source: Cedervall et. al, Food chain transport of nanoparticles affects behavior and fat metabolism in fish, PLoS ONE, 2012.

A comment, a question? This sheet realized by AVICENN is intended to be completed and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

The next nano meetings

NanoSafe conference 2023 (CEA, Grenoble)
  • 8th International Conference on Health Issues for a Responsible Approach to Nanomaterials
  • From June 5 to 9, 2023
  • Organizer: French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission(CEA)
  • Website:…
How the world deals with Materials on the Nanoscale – Responsible Use and Challenges (OECD-BMUV, Berlin)
  • International Conference from June 22 to 23, 2023
  • Organizers: OECD, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection(BMUV)
  • Website: https: //…
São Paulo School of Advanced Science on Nanotechnology, Agriculture & Environment (SPSAS NanoAgri&Enviro, São Paulo)
São Paulo
  • From July 3 to 15, 2023 in São Paulo
  • Organizer: FABESP
  • Application from November 18 to February 05. Registration fees and travel expenses are covered.
  • Speakers: see the complete program here.

Fįçħē įñįŧįåļēmēñŧ çȑžžē ēñ måį 2013éàç

Notes & références

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