Today, Friends of the Earth (FOE) published a report detailing their research into nano-ingredients in baby formula. FOE commissioned laboratory analysis of popular baby formulas to find out if they contain nanoparticles. There is little information available for consumers to learn about where these ingredients are used in products and what the risks might be. It has been known for at least a decade that there are health risks associated with nanomaterials and FOE wanted to find out more about what products contain nano.
They tested six leading US brands of baby formula, including: Gerber (owned by Nestle), Enfamil, Similac, and Well Beginnings (Walgreens brand) an d discovered all six contained nano. Three (3)different types of nanoparticles were found, including:
● “needle-like” nano hydroxyapatite
● nano TiO2 (titanium dioxide)
● nano silica dioxide
These nanoparticle ingredients are not indicated on the labels and Friends of the Earth are also concerned that the FDA does not regulate nanoparticles in baby formula, nor does the agency pre screen or test infant formulas before they enter the market. They believe the agency can do more to protect this vulnerable population.
Friends of the Earth is especially concerned about the nano hydroxyapatite in needle form found in the Gerber, Enfamil, and Well Beginnings formula. The European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) found that needle nano-hydroxyapatite is potentially toxic, could be absorbed by and enter cells, and should not be used in cosmetics such as toothpaste, teeth whiteners and mouth washes. A material that should not be used in cosmetics raises greater concern when used in food.
“We need to ask whether the potential benefits of this technology outweigh the potential risks. This likely differs for different uses of the technology. For example, as a society, we might be willing to take more risks to achieve medical advances, but for consumer products like sunscreen and infant formula, we need to ask whether we need this technology in the first place.Is it worth risking the health of our children for “benefits” like new nanotechnology colorings, flavorings, and anti-caking agents in our food?”
Beyond baby formulas, children’s products that contain engineered nanoparticles include skincare products and sunscreens, supplements, food containers, pacifiers, teethers, blankets, toys and stuffed animals, baby bottles, toothbrushes, baby carriages, bibs, baby clothing and many other products.
What should the FDA do?
● Enact a moratorium on new commercial nanotech products
● Assess safety (test) and recall baby formulas with nanoparticle ingredients
● Regulate nanomaterials as novel substances
● Extend the size-based definition of nanomaterials up to 500 nm in size
● Protect workers
● Label products that contain nanomaterials
What should the industry do?
● Recall formula containing nanomaterials
● Remove nanomaterials from product formulas
● Create nanomaterial policies
● Ensure transparency in the supply chain
What can consumers do?
Until government and companies regulate nanotechnology in a responsible and transparent manner, there are steps we can take to protect our health
● Breastfeed when and if possible
● Hold government and industry accountable. Join Friends of the Earth to demand a moratorium on the use of nanotechnology in the food sector and urge policy makers to regulate and label food, food packaging and agricultural products containing manufactured nanomaterials
● Contact baby formula manufacturers and ask them to remove nanomaterials from their products Visit our website to learn more about nanotechnology, take action and support our efforts to create a safe, just, resilient and sustainable food system.
● Visit the Friends of the Earth site and download the full report to discover more about the technology behind nano and it’s impacts on our food system.
Sign the petition demanding that baby formula companies remove these risky, engineered nanoparticles from their products.