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November 22nd, 2010
Are you eating nanofoods? While it might sound like the latest diet trend among anorexics, the term refers to the use of nanotechnology - particles as small as a billionth of a meter - in food. And there's a chance that you're already eating them.
Nanofoods fall into four categories. First, and most obviously, there's the use of nanotechnology directly in a food that you eat. Second, there are supplements that use nanotechnology. And the last two categories, which are similar, are comprised of things you don't eat that use nanotechnology: food packaging and cookware.
In those cases, are nanoparticles ingested or not? And in all cases, is it safe?
By and large, nanofoods are an area of mystery to all. We don't know if it's safe, we don't know when and where we might be eating them, and we don't know when the FDA will decide it's time to regulate them.
Perhaps the best source of information on nanotechnology, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Technologies, maintains a database of consumer products around the world that use nanotechnology. For food, they list mostly supplements, plus several applications in food packaging (such as in McDonald's burger containers or plastic beer bottles), a few uses in cookware, and hardly anything for food.
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