A poll of 1010 people comes as a wake-up call to Australia’s food safety regulator, showing that Australians overwhelmingly want a higher level of risk assessment and transparency in labelling of nano ingredients in food and food packaging. 96% of Australians want safety checks on manufactured nanoparticle additives and ingredients added to food or food packaging and 92% support mandatory labelling of nano ingredients in food and packaging. Only 15% of Australians said that they would be prepared to purchase nanofoods.

The poll was commissioned by Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) and carried out by Essential Research. The poll showed 96 per cent of Australians agree that food companies must conduct safety testing on food or food packaging ingredients that contain tiny synthetic objects called nanoparticles.

Ninety two per cent of Australians also believe food companies should label food and food packaging that contain nanoparticles so customers can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to eat nanofoods or buy food in nano packaging. Only 15 per cent of Australians said they would purchase foods containing manufactured nanoparticles, while 40 per cent said they would not purchase them at all.

Test tube and animal studies have shown that some nanoscale forms of familiar substances are toxic to people and the environment, yet food companies are not required to conduct safety tests where ingredients have been approved for use in bulk form.

FoEA is concerned that nanoparticles are already used in foods and food packaging without first being tested for safety risks. For example, internationally, nanoparticles can already be found in dairy products, soft drinks, processed foods and health supplements.

In Australia nanoparticles are found in confectionery packaging, bottle coatings and PET drink bottles, despite not having gone through a safety assessment. There are major gaps in the knowledge necessary for nanoparticles risk assessment, something the Austrian Ministry of Health recognised in September this year when it called for a suspension of the sale of nanofoods in Europe until their safety could be guaranteed.

With such big risks, FoEA repeats our call that potentially hazardous nanofoods and nanoproducts in Australia not be sold until the knowledge gaps are filled, new laws are introduced to ensure their safety and all nanoproducts are labelled so people know what they are buying.

To read the full poll results, background information and questions used in the survey commission by FoEA and carried out by Essential Research click here.