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March 10th, 2008
Australian foods could contain additives that might be harmful because of their tiny size, according to a report by the environmental group Friends of the Earth.
Nano-sized particles in food could be more chemically reactive while studies show some to be toxic to cells, says Georgia Miller, a co-author of the report, Out of the Laboratory and Onto our Plates, Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture.
Consumers would be unaware of the presence of nano particles because there is no requirement to label the size of ingredients.
Ms Miller said companies overseas had developed nutritional supplements, flavour and colour additives, and processing materials, that are in the form of very small particles, around 100 nanometres across. In the US and Europe, nano-sized ingredients have been added to some fruit juices, processed meats, diet milkshakes and baby foods.
"It is possible unlabelled nano additives are also found in foods sold in Australia," Ms Miller said. "Yet there is no requirements for manufacturers to do new safety testing of nano ingredients before using them in foods if ingredients have previously been approved for use in larger particle form."
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