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February 20, 2013

NGO Issues Results of Survey on Use of Nanotechnology in U.S. Food Market

Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 6, 2013, As You Sow announced the release of a report entitled Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Foods. As You Sow states that the report is intended to inform companies, investors, and consumers about the emerging use of engineered nanomaterials in food and food related products. The report “highlights the potential risks of nanotechnology for companies who are knowingly or unknowingly using it in their products and for public health.” The press release states that the report includes the results of a “survey of 2,500 food companies about their use of nanomaterials in food products, as well as laboratory results showing titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles in the white powdered sugar that coats Dunkin’ Donuts Powdered Cake Donuts and Hostess Donettes.” As You Sow sent the survey to 2,500 companies in the food industry, “including the 100 largest food processing companies, the 50 largest food distributors, the 75 largest food retailers, the 25 top packaging companies, the 50 top fast food companies, and 187 supplement companies.” According to As You Sow, it received “only 26 responses and a third of those companies admitted they did not know if nanomaterials are present in their products or supply chains.” As You Sow notes that “[o]nly two companies had formal policies on the use of this new food additive that has undergone little or no safety testing.” The press release states that, to test more common food products, As You Sow has simultaneously launched a crowdfunding campaign “to raise enough money to test M&M’s, Pop‐Tarts, and Trident gum for nanomaterials.”