Measurement of nanomaterials in foods: Integrative consideration of challenges and future prospects

Christopher Szakal, Stephen Roberts, Paul Westerhoff, Neil Buck, Ian Illuminato, Richard Canady, Michael Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


The risks and benefits of nanomaterials in foods and food contact materials receive conflicting international attention across expert stakeholder groups as well as in news media coverage and published research. Current nanomaterial characterization is complicated by the lack of accepted approaches to measure exposure-relevant occurrences of suspected nanomaterials in food and by broad definitions related to food processing and additive materials. Therefore, to improve understanding of risk and benefit, analytical methods are needed to identify what materials, new or traditional, are "nanorelevant" with respect to biological interaction and/or uptake during alimentary tract transit. Challenges to method development in this arena include heterogeneity in nanomaterial composition and morphology, food matrix complexity, alimentary tract diversity, and analytical method limitations. Clear problem formulation is required to overcome these and other challenges and to improve understanding of biological fate in facilitating the assessment of nanomaterial safety or benefit, including sampling strategies relevant to food production/consumption and alimentary tract transit. In this Perspective, we discuss critical knowledge gaps that must be addressed so that measurement methods can better inform risk management and public policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3128-3135
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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