Prioritizing Research Needs for Analytical Techniques Suited for Engineered Nanomaterials in Food
AbstractBackground The ability to detect, characterize, and quantify engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in foods is needed to not only understand consumer exposures to ENMs but also to comply with recent changes to European food labeling laws relevant for ENMs. Significant challenges exist, however, in terms of relying on currently-available analytical tools and techniques suited for ENMs in food, as most of these are still in development. Scope and Approach Based on a literature review, this analysis highlights the current state of knowledge in the area of analytical tools relevant for ENMs in food and then proposes strategies to prioritize near-term research and decision support efforts based on selected high-priority ENM-food applications. Key Findings and Conclusions After reviewing available analytical tools and techniques as well as challenges to using these, we identify and select six ENM-food applications as being of high-priority based on their current use as well as their potential to cause adverse health impacts in vulnerable life stages. Based on these findings, we recommend “fast tracking” the development of analytical techniques suited for high priority ENM-foods as one strategy to prioritize near term research efforts. We also recommend implementing screening-level approaches to first detect ENMs in food followed by characterization techniques to provide minimal ENM characterization information, including elemental composition, size, and size distribution. These strategies may help focus research efforts and decision support priorities in the near-term while the full suite of analytical tools are developed specifically for ENMs in food.