Indian researchers have discovered carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) in foods such as bread, corn flakes and caramel – increasing the likelihood that consumption of nanoparticles in food is safe.
The presence of CNPs adds weight to demands that the consumption of nanoparticles should be considered safe as these products have been eaten by humans for centuries, said the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati report.
The study, Presence of Amorphous Carbon Nanoparticles in Food Caramel, reported the presence of CNPs in regular carbohydrate based food caramels, such as bread, jaggery, corn flakes, biscuits and sugar caramel.
The application of nanoparticles in food and food contact substances is a “hotly debated area” due to concerns over the short and long term effect nanoparticles have on human health.
The study comes just weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance on the use of nanotechnology in the food sector, which has been met with criticism from a petitioning group.
According to the report, the application of nanotechnology the food sector has caused some alarm among members of the public.
“The reason behind this seems to be their potential effect on human health following consumption, which has received little attention; and the lack of awareness, which has raised concerns regarding the safety of nanomaterials in biological and food applications,” said the report.
Existing research has flagged-up several potential nanotechnology-related health risks, including the potential ability of nanomaterials to enter the bloodstream through skin contact, ingestion and inhalation.
“It is interesting to note that for centuries these caramels containing CNPs have been consumed by human beings with no known toxicity and thus it can be considered to have no or minimum risk on human health and may be used as a safe nanomaterial.”
“Arguably; this discovery revealed that human consumption of nanomaterials in the form of food caramels has its history possibly from the period when humans for the first time started eating bread.”
The report added that the potential application of nanoparticles in food and food contact materials makes the understanding of their function “a worthy exercise.”
The study comes just weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its latest guidance on the use of nanotechnology in food and food contact substances.
The document pinpointed factors for consideration when trying to determine whether changes in the manufacturing process, such as the intentional reduction in particle size to the nanoscale, can affect the safety of food.
The group that originally petitioned the FDA on the issue has since criticised the guidance, calling for the introduction of further regulations to cover the food sector’s use of the technology.