The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently published a guidance document for assessing potential risks arising from applications of nanoscience and nanotechnologies in the food and feed chain. The EFSA guidance, prepared in response to a request from the European Commission, is the first of its kind and provides practical guidance on the physico-chemical characterisation requirements of engineered nanomaterials used e.g. as food additives, enzymes, flavourings, food contact materials, novel foods, feed additives and pesticides and; testing approaches to identify and characterise hazards arising from the nanoproperties.
Commenting on the publication of the EFSA guidance, Professor Vittorio Silano, Chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee explained: “A thorough characterization of the engineered nanomaterials followed by adequate toxicity testing is essential for the risk assessment of these applications. Yet we recognize uncertainties related to the suitability of certain existing test methodologies and the availability of data for engineered nanomaterials applications in food and feed. The guidance makes recommendations about how risk assessments should reflect these uncertainties for food and feed applications.”
To assist with the practical use of the guidance, six scenarios are presented which outline different toxicity testing approaches. For each scenario, the guidance indicates the type of testing required.
EFSA conducted a public consultation on its preparatory work, acknowledging the importance of developing risk assessment methodologies in this field to support innovation whilst ensuring the safety of food and feed. In total 256 comments were received from 36 organisations spanning from academia, NGOs, industry to Member State and international authorities. All of these contributions were considered and incorporated into the guidance document where appropriate.
Risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials is under fast development and consequently, in keeping with EFSA’s commitment to review its guidance for risk assessment on an ongoing basis, this work will be revised as appropriate.
Read here the full text guidance document