The first meeting of the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) Nanotechnologies and Food Discussion Group is being held today (Jan 13), and the end result may be a register of nanofoods on the market.

The group was set up following a recommendation in the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology 2010 report into nanotechnologies and food.

The aim of the group is to help FSA advance some of the recommendations from the House of Lords report, and to exchange information between different sectors within the nanotechnologies and food groups.

The discussion will be chaired by FSA and consist of 15 stakeholders from academia, industry, other government departments and consumer groups, as well as agency policy leads.

The outline for the first meeting includes briefings on European Union regulations and definitions, review of guidance for assessing nanomaterials, and perspectives of various members of the group.

Discussions will include a focus on intelligence gathering on nanotechnology research being carried out by the food industry, and a proposal for setting up a UK register of nanofoods on the market.

FSA is the body responsible in the UK for the assessment of novel foods, but it will not assess the safety of using nanotechnology in the food chain unless it is asked to do so.  If a company wants authorization to market food produced using nanotechnology, then the Agency is obliged to assess the food safety implications.

According to FSA, recent technological developments lead the way for manufactured nanoparticles to be added to food. These could be finely divided forms of existing ingredients, or completely novel chemical structures.