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May 11, 2011

EFSA Publishes Guidance for Assessing Engineered Nanomaterial Applications in Food and Feed

Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 10, 2011, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a guidance document for the risk assessment of engineered nanomaterial (ENM) applications in food and feed. According to EFSA, the guidance “is the first of its kind to give practical guidance for addressing potential risks arising from applications of nanoscience and nanotechnologies in the food and feed chain.” The guidance covers risk assessments for food and feed applications, including food additives, enzymes, flavorings, food contact materials, novel foods, feed additives, and pesticides. EFSA’s Scientific Committee prepared the guidance in response to a request from the European Commission (EC). EFSA states that the guidance complements existing guidance documents for substances and products submitted for risk assessment in view of their possible authorization in food and feed. The guidance stipulates the additional data needed for the physical and chemical characterization of ENMs in comparison with conventional applications, and outlines different toxicity testing approaches to be followed by applicants. The guidance presents six scenarios outlining different toxicity testing approaches. For each scenario, the guidance indicates the type of testing required. EFSA states: “Risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials is under fast development and consequently, in keeping with EFSA’s commitment to review its guidance for risk assessment on an ongoing basis, this work will be revised as appropriate.”