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| Human World on Nov 02, 2009

Elke Anklam describes nanofoods’ benefits and possible risks

Listen to Elke Anklam talk about the possible pros and cons of using nanotechnology in food products.

Elke Anklam: What is nanofood? It’s food which contains some tiny elements – “nanomaterials” – in the food, to make it more tasty or bring more nutrients to the body, or it is produced using nanotechnology.

Elke Anklam, of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, told EarthSky that nanofoods are already on some supermarket shelves. She described some of the benefits of foods created with nanomaterials.

Elke Anklam: We have the availability of nutrients which go much faster to the body. They are dissolved much better, and also there are advantages for taste, flavor, and texture.

For example, a nano-mayonnaise replaces regular mayo’s fatty oils with nano-sized water droplets thinly coated with oil.

Elke Anklam: It is like a real nice fat mayonnaise to eat it, but it has the benefit of less calories.

But, Anklam said, scientists still need to consider the possible risks of these innovative food products for consumers. Anklam said there may be a health risk with certain nanomaterials which aren’t completely digested in the body. Because they are so small, nanoparticles could penetrate cells and organs through the bloodstream, with unknown effects.

Elke Anklam: So we don’t know where these materials end up. We have still to study a lot.

Here in the United States, the FDA is assessing the safety of foods containing nanomaterials.

Our thanks to:
Elke Anklam
Director of the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
European Commission for Joint Research
Ispra, Italy