“POTENTIALLY toxic” nanoparticles have been found in popular Australian baby formulas, sparking calls for the national food regulator to urgently recall the brands.
Research commissioned by environment group Friends of the Earth found three of seven samples of infant formula on sale in Australia contained microscopic nano-hydroxyapatite particles.
It says nano-hydroxyapatite has been found to cause cell death in the liver and kidneys of rats and is prohibited for use in infant formula in Australia in any form.
Hydroxyapatite is naturally present in bones, but Friends of the Earth claim all food grade nano-hydroxyapatite is “synthetically produced” and presents serious health concerns due to its very small size.
“Due to their very small size, nanoparticles have been demonstrated to be more likely than larger particles to enter cells, tissues and organs,” it said. “They can be more chemically reactive and more bioactive than larger particles of the same chemicals.”
Further, the research found that two of these samples — Nestlé NAN H.A. Gold 1 and Nature’s Way Kids Smart 1 — contained a tiny, needle-like form of nano-hydroxyapatite.
According to Friends of the Earth, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has previously concluded that this form of nano-hydroxyapatite should not be permitted in oral products such as toothpaste and mouthwash because of its potential toxicity.
The environment group is now calling on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to immediately recall the baby formulas and commission testing of all infant formula to ascertain what other brands contain hydroxyapatite or other unapproved and potentially harmful nanoparticles.
“If it’s dangerous in toothpaste, it should certainly not be in infant formula,” Friends of the Earth said. “Babies are particularly vulnerable to food safety risks since their immune systems are still developing. Often infant formula is the only food an infant receives. FSANZ needs to immediately recall these products.”
But the FSANZ has refuted these claims, saying there is no new evidence to suggest these products pose a risk to infant health and safety. This conclusion was supported by experts from the regulator’s Scientific Nanotechnology Advisory Group.
According to a statement from the FSANZ, nanoscale materials are not new. “Food is naturally composed of nanoscale sugars, amino acids, peptides and proteins, many of which form organised, functional nanostructures,” it said.
“For example, proteins are in the nanoscale size range and milk contains an emulsion of nanoscale fat droplets. Humans, including infants, have consumed these particles in foods throughout evolution without evidence of adverse health effects related to the materials’ nanoscale size.”
The regulator also said hydroxyapatite is an essential mineral and is easily soluble. “Hydroxyapatite is soluble in acidic environments such as the stomach, so small amounts in food are likely to dissolve to release calcium and phosphate. These are essential minerals that are required to be in infant formula products.”
The FSANZ has urged parents and carers of infants not to be alarmed by this report or concerned about the legality and safety of these products.
“The presence of something, whether on the nanoscale or not, in a food that does not have a permission in the Code does not mean a food is unsafe,” it said.
Source: News Au