All posts by Food Irradiation Watch

FOE Press Release: Independent testing finds illegal and potentially harmful nanoparticles in common food products

Thursday, 17th September 2015

Independent testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth has found potentially harmful nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and silica (SiO2) in a range of food products including M&Ms, Nestlé Coffee Mate Creamer, Old El Paso Taco Mix and Woolworths Homebrand White Sauce.

The silica and titanium dioxide in all 14 food products tested contained a high proportion of nanoparticles that have not been tested, labelled or approved for consumption in Australia. Furthermore, peer reviewed studies have raised health serious health concerns regarding the use of these nanoparticles in food.

Jeremy Tager, campaigner with Friends of the Earth’s Emerging Tech Project said “for over two years, our food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has insisted that foods containing nanomaterials are not sold here on the basis that no companies have applied for approval.[1] The agency has done no testing and hasn’t even asked manufacturers if its claim is true.”

“FSANZ has also told Parliament that food products containing these ingredients will not be sold until they have been subject to safety testing and pre-market approval.[2] By allowing these untested and potentially harmful substances into the food chain, FSANZ has inexcusably failed in its role as a regulator.”

Four years ago, a Government commissioned review of food labelling urged FSANZ to “develop as a matter of urgency a standard for regulating the presence of nanotechnology in the food production chain”.[3] Thus far, no action has been taken. [4]

Nano titanium dioxide is used as a whitener and brightener in a range of foods, including lollies, chewing gum and doughnuts. Children between the age of 2 and 4 have been found to have the highest exposure levels.

Animal studies of nano titanium dioxide show it can damage DNA, disrupt cell function, interfere with the immune system, cross the intestinal tract and cause organ damage.

Nano silica is used as a ‘trickle and flow’ aid in powdered food products. This year the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) found evidence that nano silica can damage DNA[5] and concluded that the data is inadequate and no conclusion of safety can be made.[6] Several recent studies have shown that nano silica can cause liver toxicity[7].

“We provided evidence to FSANZ over a year ago that it is highly likely that foods containing manufactured nanoparticles are in the Australian food chain. The fact that every sample we tested contained a high proportion of nanoparticles, suggests that the use of nanomaterials in Australian foods is widespread,” said Mr Tager.

“Friends of the Earth Australia is calling for recall of all products containing nanomaterials and an immediate moratorium on the use of nanomaterials in food, pending full safety assessments,” concluded Mr Tager.

Media contact: Jeremy Tager: 0400 376 974


[1] FSANZ, response to Questions on Notice, Senate Estimates, SQ14-000086, February 2014. – FSANZ has told Parliament that it is “not aware of any manufactured nanomaterials being used in food available in Australia,” based on the fact that it “has not received an application to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards in relation to new or novel nanoscale particles for food use.”

[2] FSANZ, responses to Questions on Notice, Senate Estimates,  SQ14-000074, SQ14-000082, February 2014;
SQ14-001329, SQ14-001342, October 2014.

[3] Blewett, N. et al (2011) Labelling Logic: Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, p. 94.,$File/Labelling%20Logic_2011.pdf

[4] Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, Progress Report, December 2014.
“Progress update: Monitoring. FSANZ is continuing to actively monitor this issue with a view to considering labelling of new technologies as required on a case-by-case basis. See actions for recommendation 2 & 28”

[5] Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) (2015) Opinion on Silica, Hydrated Silica, and Silica Surface Modified with Alkyl Silylates (nano form). SCCS/1545/15.March 2015, p. 46.

[6] Ibid. p. 56.

[7] Van der Zande, M. et al. (2014) Sub-chronic toxicity study in rats orally exposed to nanostructured silica. Particle and Fibre Toxicology 11:8; Nishimori H, Kondoh M, Isoda K, Tsunoda S, Tsutsumi Y, Yagi K (2009) Histological analysis of 70-nm silica particles-induced chronic toxicity in mice. Eur J Pharm Biopharm 72:626–629; Nishimori H, Kondoh M, Isoda K, Tsunoda S, Tsutsumi Y, Yagi K (2009) Silica nanoparticles as hepatotoxicants. Eur J Pharm Biopharm, 72:496–501; Liu T, Li L, Fu C, Liu H, Chen D, Tang F (2012) Pathological mechanisms of liver injury caused by continuous intraperitoneal injection of silica nanoparticles. Biomaterials 33:2399–2407; Cho M, Cho WS, Choi M, Kim SJ, Han BS, Kim SH, Kim HO, Sheen YY, Jeong J (2009) The impact of size on tissue distribution and elimination by single intravenous injection of silica nanoparticles. Toxicol Lett 189:177–183; Lu X, Tian Y, Zhao Q, Jin T, Xiao S, Fan X (2011) Integrated metabonomics analysis of the size-response relationship of silica nanoparticles-induced toxicity in mice. Nanotechnology 22:055101; Downs TR, Crosby ME, Hu T, Kumar S, Sullivan A, Sarlo K, Reeder B, Lynch M, Wagner M, Mills T, Pfuhler S (2012) Silica nanoparticles administered at the maximum tolerated dose induce genotoxic effects through an inflammatory reaction while gold nanoparticles do not. Mutat Res 745:38–50; Xie G, Sun J, Zhong G, Shi L, Zhang D (2010) Biodistribution and toxicity of intravenously administered silica nanoparticles in mice. Arch Toxicol 84:183–190.


Take Action on Food Labelling!


Our food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is failing to ensure that the food we eat is safe and properly labelled so that we can make informed choices.

FSANZ consistently puts the interests of big business before public health. The agency has allowed the rapid introduction of new ingredients with minimal or no testing – including genetically modified and nano-ingredients. It allows food ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries for safety reasons – including food additives and trans fats. It has failed to regulate pesticide residues and food irradiation in a precautionary and pro-active way. FSANZ has also failed to ensure that labelling laws provide us with the information we need.

Tell Fiona Nash you’re fed up with FSANZ (link to

We want to change the way FSANZ does business and we need your help! Please email the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, and ask her to ensure that FSANZ makes food safety and our right to know its top priorities.

 Take Action! (link to


Say NO! to Irradiated Cocktail

fruitsaladFood Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is recommending the irradiation of apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table grapes, zucchini and squash – the latest move to expand the use of irradiation on fresh produce in Australia. This means that a large part of our fresh food diet can potentially be irradiated, increasing the risks to human health.

NOW is the time to write a submission.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 6pm (Canberra time) 9 October 2014

Continue reading


News: Apples, Grapes, Strawberries and Other Popular Fruits Could Soon Be Treated With Irradiation

appleFood Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is recommending apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table grapes, zucchini and squash be permitted in the latest expansion of the use of irradiation on fresh foods in Australia. NOW is the time to write a submission.

“The treatment is already approved for tomatoes, capsicums, persimmons, herbs and spices, herbal infusions and some tropical fruits….The proposal could potentially push up prices because of mandatory labelling requirements and other costs, risk assessment documents reveal”, reports the Herald Sun.

The proposal is being put forward by Queensland’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, one of the agencies ostensibly intended to monitor and police the use of new technologies in food, suggesting a conflict of interest and possible stacking by industry pundits.irradiated_food

“Irradiation is being sought as an alternative treatment to some pesticides, which are no longer permitted or permissions for use have changed,” Food Standards Australia New Zealand chief Steve McCutcheon told the Herald-Sun newspaper, “FSANZ has reviewed the evidence on the safety of these irradiated fruits and found they are safe to eat. The literature also shows the maximum dose permitted does not reduce the nutritional quality.”

However, irradition has been banned by the Australian Government for use on cat food after more than 50 cats became ill or died as a result of eating irradiated products. A high rate of pet neurological disorders in the US is also linked with irradiation. Research has found that irradiation decreases the vitamin content of fresh foods, and creates ‘unique radiolytic products’ that do not occur in nature. Read more about the risks of irradiation [here]

Final approval requires the participation of state ministers, and FSANZ is currently accepting submissions from the public. Read the FSANZ application and submit your letter of rejection here:

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 6pm (Canberra time) 9 October 2014

Food Labelling Law to Go to Public Consultation

In recent weeks clean food advocates have been alerted to the threat of changes to the requirement for labelling of irradiated and GMO foods. We have now received information from the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation Secretariat that changes to labelling will go to a public consultation and be handled by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, rather than be at ministerial discretion.

The Blewett Labelling Review (2011) made recommendations to FSANZ:

labellinglogic-blewett report“That as a general principle all foods or ingredients that have been processed by new technologies (i.e., all technologies that trigger pre-market food safety assessments) be required to be labelled for 30 years from the time of their introduction into the human food chain; the application of this principle to be based on scientific evidence of direct impact on, or modification of, the food/ingredient to be consumed. (Recommendation 28).”


“Recommendation 34: That the requirement for mandatory labelling of irradiated food be reviewed.”

We expect that the review will take these flawed and contradictory recommendations into consideration. The final feport – Labelling Logic was publicly released in 2011.

However, this is good news for public transparency and democratic process, giving concerned citizens the right to voice their objections to a relaxing of labelling. We expect to hear an announcement of the consultation process in the next six months.

Subscribe to our Facebook page or visit this site to keep up to date on developments.

Threat to Labelling Laws May See Irradiated and ‘Novel’ Food Technologies Unlabelled

Australian and New Zealand labelling for irradiated fooods DOES NOT have a standard or mark like the US one (above)

Australian and New Zealand labelling for irradiated foods DOES NOT have a standard or mark like the US one (above)

All indications we have had, from officials and Ministerial letters, are that our governments intend to end irradiation labelling. In our view, improving and strengthening the existing deficient labelling and signage regimes should also be an option for the review.

Issues for consumers regarding removal of labelling include governmental conflicts of interest in approvals, the risk of misrepresentation of irradiated foods as fresh, testing for irradiation involves detecting changes to the food (proving it is a additive, rather than a benign process), current point-of sale signage is inadequate Health issues include: insufficient testing of safety, and new studies indicate nutrient loss and allergy issues.

Continue reading

Thanks to Canidae Pet Food: Proudly Irradiation Free

Cats and dogs have died in Australia and the USA as a result of irradiated food. Congratulations to Australian pet food manufacturer, Canidae, for being irradiation free. Pet food companies in the US are also now following suit, with increased awareness of the danger to pets from eating irradiated food.

Art Ryan's cats became ill after eatring irradiated food.

Art Ryan’s cats became ill after eating irradiated food.

“the FDA said it will begin testing treats to see whether irradiation of the products may have contributed to reports of treat-related problems ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to kidney failure, Fanconi syndrome and death.

In 2009, the Australian government halted irradiation used to sterilize cat food after reports of paralysis and other problems appeared to be linked to the process. Ninety cats were sickened, of which 30 died, according to press reports at the time.” Continue reading

Australia: Issues With Irradiation

tropicalfruitsIn Australia, herbs, spices, herbal infusions (teas), nine tropical fruits (mango, paw paw, lychee, longan, mangosteen, rambutan, carambola, breadfruit and custard apple), persimmons, tomatoes and capsicums have so far been approved for irradiation.

There are 16 further approvals in the pipeline, including: zucchinis, honey dew melons, rockmelons, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, table grapes, and apples.

In the US, numerous products, including beef, vegetables, oysters and fruit may be irradiated. Free trade agreements make it likely that more approvals will be pursued in Australia.

Continue reading

India Row on Rays


Research findings by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, on the harmful effects of freshly irradiated wheat fed to mice and men, in the mid-’70s, had indicated that irradiation can cause malignant changes in the blood cells. Its observations were reconfirmed by laboratories in West Germany and the UK. Indignant BARC scientists bitterly contested the NIN findings.

“The reservations about food irradiation all over the world should not be lightly brushed aside,” warned Dr C. Gopalan, former chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and president of the Nutrition Foundation of India. Continue reading

NZ: Medicos Oppose Irradiation

Physicans & Scientists for Global Responsibility: “recommends Food Standards Austria New Zealand (FSANZ) reject Application A1069. The food regulation review process of FSANZ has a legislated mandate to protect public health and safety. In approving this Application, FSANZ would not be meeting this duty of care.

“The safety and nutritional integrity of the proposed irradiated foods is not determined. Irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums could potentially adversely affect the nutritional value and safety of a significant proportion of fresh foods and processed food supplies in New Zealand and Australia as these products are widely used in dried, canned and frozen processed foods.

Read the full submission here: