The European Food Safety Authority (ERSA) recently launched a public consultation, Guidance on risk assessment concerning potential risks arising from applications of nanoscience and nanotechnologies to food and feed, which closes Feb. 25, 2011. From the Jan. 14, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,
Commenting on the launch of the public consultation, Professor Vittorio Silano, Chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee explained, “Building on EFSA’s previous scientific opinions in the area of nanotechnologies, we are now in the position to provide practical guidance on the risk assessment process. EFSA recognises the importance of developing risk assessment methodologies in this area of science, supporting innovation whilst ensuring the safety of food and feed. This is the first time that risk assessment guidance on nanotechnologies related to the food chain has been developed, making this public consultation very important to EFSA. We look forward to reviewing the contributions.”
You can go to the EFSA’s web page about the consultation to find their Scientific Committee’s draft guidance document (available as a PDF) and a link to the comments submission form. (There is a category for countries on the form and the dropdown menu includes Canada amongst many, many other countries. I gather they will accept comments from outside the European Union.)
I find this initiative particularly interesting in the wake of the ‘killer paper’ excitement late last week. From the Jan. 20, 2011 news item on Azonano,
Scientists are reporting development and successful lab tests of “killer paper,” a material intended for use as a new food packaging material that helps preserve foods by fighting the bacteria that cause spoilage. [emphasis mine]
The paper, described in ACS’ journal, Langmuir, contains a coating of silver nanoparticles, which are powerful anti-bacterial agents.
Aharon Gedanken and colleagues note that silver already finds wide use as a bacteria fighter in certain medicinal ointments, kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and even odor-resistant socks.
As a matter of fact the EFSA’s consultation specifies food packaging as one of its areas of interest,
This guidance (referred to as the ENM Guidance) deals with risk assessment of three main categories of products/applications; those that are intended for consumption (by humans or animals), agrochemicals used in plant production (e.g. pesticides) and nanomaterials that are incorporated into products which come into contact with food/feed (e.g. packaging materials). [emphasis mine]
I’m glad work is being done in Europe but it does leave me wondering as to what’s happening here in Canada and, for that matter, the US, as well as, elsewhere.