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May 11, 2010

EP Committee Votes to Require Risk Assessments and Labeling for Food Products Containing Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 4, 2010, the European Parliament (EP) Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety voted on draft legislation regarding “novel foods,” which are defined as those that have not been consumed to a significant degree in the European Union (EU) before May 1997. Under the legislation, foods produced by nanotechnology processes would be required to undergo risk assessment before being approved for use, and approved products would be subject to labeling requirements. According to the Committee, foods produced by nanotechnology processes must remain excluded from the European Community (EC) list until they have undergone specific and adequate risk assessments, and the possible health effects of materials at nanoscale are better understood. The draft legislation would define nanomaterials as having one or more dimensions less than 100 nanometers (nm). All ingredients present in nano-form would need to be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients. The EP plenary vote on the draft legislation is scheduled for July 2010.