The UK’s Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) has called for the food industry to be cautious in using food nanotechnologies – warning advances could be stillborn if consumers doubt their safety.

Reflecting on the problems caused in Europe by consumer concern over genetically modified organisms, the institute said for most current food nanotechnology patent applications, there was “negligible safety concern”. But there was potential for public alarm “around the possible ingestion of free nanoparticles…(which may) reach regions within cells or tissues that macroscopic particles could not reach”.

So, the IFST wants nanoparticles examined as “potentially harmful materials that require rigorous safety testing”, with results being published.