Are Nanoparticles Safe to use in our Food?

Using nanotechnology in food can, among other things, extend shelf life, enhance flavoring and packaging capabilities, and improve quality. However, some people feel uneasy about nanoparticles being used in food and wonder whether or not it is particularly safe. Because of the small size of nanoparticles, it is very important to examine how they act when inside the human body (which may differ from the larger particles in food).  An article published in the journal Science of Food  reviews the information available regarding how inorganic and organic nanoparticles are used in food and which factors affect their gastrointestinal fate and toxicity.  

The authors note that nanoparticles are already being used in many different types of foods and are unlikely to have any harmful effects on human health; however, some studies show that there is a need for further testing.  In the studies the authors reviewed, they found that inorganic nanoparticles were more likely to be absorbed by the body and were held by certain tissues which produced toxic conditions. Organic nanoparticles tend to increase the amount of potentially toxic substances which were ingested (such as pesticides or hormones) or substances that are only toxic at high amounts.