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August 30, 2018

Austrian Academy of Sciences Publishes English Version of Dossier on Nanotechnological Applications for Food Contact Materials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

In July 2018, the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences published an English version of Dossier No. 49, “Nanotechnological Applications for Food Contact Materials.”  The Dossier concludes that nanomaterials can significantly improve the properties of plastic materials, making nanocomposites “increasingly interesting for manufacturers, especially for food packaging.”  Nanomaterials used in food contact materials (FCM) in the European Union (EU) require authorization, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for assessing their safety.  The Dossier states that “[a]t present, little is known about the environmental behaviour of nanomaterials during the end of life phase of FCMs.  Nor have many studies been carried out to investigate the possible release of nanoscale additives during waste treatment processes or the question of the exposure of workers during such processes.”  Further studies and exposure assessments are needed here. According to the Dossier, “[i]f nanotechnology is to be made sustainable there is a need to ensure that, in the framework of a circular economy, plastic materials with nano-scale additives can also be recycled or used for energy recovery in a secure way.”