emagazine.com / By Brita Belli / November 1, 2012
Our food supply is not nearly as safety-tested as we would like to believe. True, things are not as dire as they were in the early 20th century when Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed the filth of the meatpacking industry, leading to reforms that included the founding of an agency that would become the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But there are still unsettling gaps in what we know about the food and food packaging that is already sitting on supermarket shelves.
Unbeknownst to just about everyone, nanoparticles made a quiet entrance into the nation’s food supply at least a decade ago. Nanoparticles are materials that are microscopic—significantly smaller than a red blood cell; and tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles can help deliver nutrients, ensure longer freshness of food, act as thickening agents or enhance taste or flavor. The problem is, scientists are still determining the health and environmental impact of these tiny particles, even as industry is forging ahead.