Regulators are proposing that food companies that want to use tiny engineered particles in their packaging may have to provide extra testing data to show the products are safe.
The Food and Drug Administration issued tentative guidelines Friday for food and cosmetic companies interested in using nanoparticles, which are measured in billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is 100,000 nanometers thick. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers thick.
The submicroscopic particles are increasingly showing up in FDA-regulated products like sunscreens, skin lotions and glare-reducing eyeglass coatings. Some scientists believe the technology will one day be used in medicine, but the FDA's announcement did not address that use.
The draft guidance suggests the FDA may require food companies to provide data establishing the safety of any packaging using nanotechnology.
Under longstanding regulations, companies aren't required to seek regulatory approval before launching products containing established ingredients and materials, such as caffeine, spices and various preservatives.
But FDA officials said Friday that foods...