The European Commission will provide additional funding for research investigating the potential safety problems caused by using nanoparticles in food and food packaging.

Food companies have been exploring the use of nanotechnology to create tough and super-flexible packaging or thin films to preserve foodstuffs, amongst other innovations.

However, a detailed Commission policy paper has echoed concerns about the potential health effects of using such tiny particles. It commits Brussels to reviewing whether EU food and health legislation needs reforming to take account of nanotechnology and spending more on safety research.

EU environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The challenge is to ensure that society benefits from novel applications of nanotechnologies.”