I was one of those Mother's who had to formula feed. I had planed to breast feed but my body would not allow it. This threw me into a new world of what should I give my son? Recently a new found Nano-particles in Baby Formula. We all need to take a second and educate ourselves because our babies depend on us!
What is nanotechnology, what are Nanoparticles/nanomaterials?
Nanoparticles are tiny little engineered particles, about 1000x thinner than a human hair! The term ‘nanotechnology’ basically describes the manipulation of things at a really, really small scale, several hundred times smaller than our blood cells. The interesting and also the concerning thing about manipulating materials at this scale is that familiar substances change in ways that scientists may not expect or predict. Let me give you an example. We’re all familiar with the thick white sunscreen worn by lifeguards, etc. If we use nanotechnology to reduce the size of those particles to the nanoscale, suddenly those white zinc particles become transparent. This can be useful. The problem is that at this tiny scale, the particles change in other ways as well. We now know that those zinc nanoparticles are also much more toxic than the larger zinc particles – and unfortunately that appears to be true of many nanoparticles. So a key concern for us is the uncertainty associated with nanotechnology. That’s why we need new safety testing before nanoparticles are used in products.
Three (3) different types of nanoparticles were found, including:
● “needle-like” nano hydroxyapatite
● nano TiO2 (titanium dioxide)
Is there a difference in risk from nanomaterials for children vs. adults?
With baby formula, infants may be at greater risk of suffering health harms from exposure to nanomaterials because of their more vulnerable physiology. Children's immune, central nervous, reproductive and digestive systems are still developing, and at certain early stages of development, exposure to toxicants can lead to irreversible damage which can increase risk of disease later in life.
Why are we concerned?
Unfortunately, we don’t know whether eating nanofoods will cause serious harm to our health in the long term. But scientists have already found that feeding mice nanomaterials that are now being used by the food industry can cause liver and kidney damage. Test tube studies have found that nanomaterials now used by the food industry are toxic to human cells at even very low doses. These studies can be found in the report.
Given these really serious early warning signs, we need food regulators to keep unsafe and untested nanomaterials out of our foods.
Why are nanoparticles used in other food products?
Nanofood is basically any food that’s been manipulated at this extremely small nanoscale, or which has had nanoparticles added to it. For example the food industry is now making flavor, color and nutritional additives and putting them in nanoscale capsules. Some of these capsules are thousands of times smaller than traditional food additives. Because the capsules are so small, they are much more reactive which means that food companies can make stronger flavors, and more potent nutritional additives. These nanocapsules are now being sold for use in meats, margarine, soft drinks
and bread. The problem is that the greater reactivity of these nanocapsules, and the far greater access they have to our bodies, may also increase their toxicity risks – we just don’t know.
That’s why we think food regulators should keep nanoparticles out of our foods until they can be shown to be safe.
At the nanoscale, the physical, chemical and optical properties of familiar substances differ from those of the substances in larger particle form. For example, in larger particle form zinc oxide (ZnO) is white and opaque, as a nanoparticle zinc oxide is transparent, enabling it to be used to provide UV protection in products such as transparent cling wrap packaging.
Nanotechnology has existing and potential applications in all aspects of agriculture, food processing, food packaging and even farm and food monitoring.
These applications include:
● Methods to enable foods such as soft drinks, ice cream, chocolate, or chips to be marketed as “health” foods by reducing fat, carbohydrate or calorie content or by increasing protein, fiber or vitamin content;
● Production of stronger flavoring, coloring, nutritional additives and processing aids to increase the pace of manufacturing and to lower costs of ingredients and processing;
● Development of foods with novel colors, flavors or nutritional properties to suit consumers’ dietary needs, allergies or taste preferences;
● Packaging or edible coatings to increase food shelf life by detecting spoilage, bacteria or the loss of food nutrients, and to release antimicrobials, flavors, colors, or nutritional supplements;
● Re-formulation of on-farm inputs to produce more potent fertilizers, plant growth treatments and pesticides that respond to specific conditions or targets.
What should the FDA do?
● Enact a moratorium on new commercial nanotech products
● Assess safety (test) and recall baby formulas with nanoparticle ingredients
● Regulate nanomaterials as novel substances
● Extend the size-based definition of nanomaterials up to 500 nm in size
● Protect workers
● Label products that contain nanomaterials
What should the industry do?
● Recall formula containing nanomaterials
● Remove nanomaterials from product formulas
● Create nanomaterial policies
● Ensure transparency in the supply chain
What can consumers do?
Until government and companies regulate nanotechnology in a responsible and transparent manner, there are steps we can take to protect our health.
● Breastfeed when and if possible
● Hold government and industry accountable: Join Friends of the Earth to demand a moratorium on the use of nanotechnology in the food sector and urge policy makers to regulate and label food, food packaging and agricultural products containing manufactured nanomaterials
● Contact baby formula manufacturers and ask them to remove nanomaterials from their
nanosilica in food: evaluation of the dissolution and toxicity of different forms of silica. Nanotoxicology, 7(4):367–377, 368.