Nanoparticles in Food Products

Uh oh…The nonprofit corporate watchdog As You Sow just found nanoparticles in the Dunkin Donuts they tested! How they got in there and why they’re in there is not well understood. But what is known is that the tiny titanium dioxide particles are found in the powdered sugar. The scary part? These chemical additives – also potentially used to enhance flavors, keep food from spoiling, and reduce fat – have not been proven safe to eat by anyone – including children. Nevertheless, they are in our food supply, totally unregulated (they are regulated in Europe).

On behalf of our client As You Sow, we propelled the issue of nanotechnology in food products into the mainstream media. With two amazing stories in the New York Times (and here), plus CNN, Scientific American, New York Magazine, Food Politics, Food Production Daily, Supermarket News, and lots of other high-profile outlets, we are hoping to pressure companies into coming clean about their use of nano.

Because of their small size, nanoparticles can to go places in the body that larger particles cannot. Nanoparticles in food or food packaging can gain access via ingestion, inhalation, or skin penetration. Once inside our bodies, nanoparticles can penetrate cell walls and pass into the blood and lymph system. From there, the particles can circulate through the body and reach potentially sensitive target sites such as bone marrow, lymph nodes, the spleen, the liver, the heart, and cross the blood brain barrier. This unregulated new technology is clearly entering our food supply. There has been little if any safety testing, and there is no transparency of what products it is in. As we learned from a recent survey of 2,500 food companies, many companies may not even know that they have nanomaterials in their supply chain.

The FDA could be doing a lot more about understanding the health implications of nanomaterials in our food supply. Please help us uncover the truth by giving what you can to this campaign so that we can test more kid-friendly products and pressure companies to get these ingredients out of our food until safety studies have been conducted.

UPDATE: We are thrilled to announce that Dunkin Donuts is “dropping titanium dioxide from its powdered sugar donuts after pressure from a public interest group who argued it is not safe for human consumption,” to quote CNN Money.