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February 18, 2022

Nanoparticles in foodstuffs, towards a standardisation of their characterisation

LNE has been selected by Europe to develop a Technical Specification aimed at harmonising the analytical approach for characterising the nanometric fraction of additives incorporated into foodstuffs.

Nanoparticules de dioxyde de titane

Characterising nanoparticles according to a standardised methodology

LNE was chosen in response to a call for tenders issued by the European Commission via CEN-CENELEC to develop a harmonised approach to characterise the nanometric fraction of inorganic additives incorporated into foodstuffs.

This work will be carried out within the WG4 "Manufactured nano-objects in food additives" led since 2019 by LNE within CEN/TC 352 Nanotechnologies.

Several European expert laboratories working in close collaboration with the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the JRC (Joint Research Centre) on the topic will participate in this work, including the SCL (laboratory of the French Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Prevention of Fraud), Sciensano (Belgium), DTU (Denmark), WFSR (Netherlands) and HSE (Ireland).

The objective of this work is to provide the food industry, service providers and control laboratories of the Member States with a standardised testing methodology validated by inter-laboratory comparison. The publication of this Technical Specification is planned for 2025.

A crucial issue for the sector in terms of risk control

The issue of the presence of nanoparticles in certain additives used by the food industry has been the subject of numerous communications in recent years. In most cases, the complexity of the subject makes it difficult to produce indisputable data to demonstrate a possible risk associated with the ingestion of these nanoparticles. Moreover, the assessment of consumer exposure is difficult to carry out because of the limited information available on the presence of these nanoparticles, due to the lack of reliable and comparable characterisation data.

Several analytical techniques can be used, each with limitations that must be known to avoid making inappropriate choices. In addition, sample preparation issues are central to controlling potential analytical bias. It is precisely the objective of the Technical Specification to be developed at European level under the impetus of the LNE-Nanotech Institute to provide recommendations on these two aspects.


See more

LNE-Nanotech institute (in French)

Characterising nanomaterials

LNE collaborating with the EFSA

The work of CEN/TC 352 Nanotechnologies (in French)