Food and Food Packaging

Nanotechnology is gradually being developed around the world in relation to food production, processing and packaging. More innovative products and applications in these areas are expected on the market in the near future as the science continues to emerge. Applications of nanotechnology are expected to improve food packaging, prevent food contamination, and enhance taste.

Health Canada's priority is ensuring the health and safety of Canadians while fostering the responsible development and introduction of emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, in the food sector.  Nanotechnology applications, such as the use of nanosized ingredients, additives, or novel foods, or the use of nanomaterials in products that contact food products (e.g. packaging materials), would be regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations. These applications would be subject to the same rigorous regulations that currently apply to conventional food products.  Health Canada is examining and evaluating potential health risks of nanotechnology-based food products on a case-by-case basis, as nanotechnology is still a new field of research and application. This approach is consistent with other major regulatory bodies.

The Department encourages sponsors and other stakeholders to communicate with the Food Directorate early in the development process for food products that are, contain or make use of nanomaterials.

For more information on food and food packaging, please visit: Food and Nutrition.

Assessments of New Substances Found in Novel Foods, Food Additives and Food Packaging under Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999)

Health Canada together with Environment Canada conducts assessments of the potential environmental and human health risks arising from environmental exposure to new substances, including nanomaterials, in products regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations when that new substance is manufactured or imported in excess of the quantities set out in the New Substances Notification Regulations (NSNR). For substances found in novel foods and food additives, Health Canada has the sole responsibility for health and environmental risk assessment. However, for nanomaterials contained in food packaging, Environment Canada focuses on the  environmental risk assessment while Health Canada addresses the human health risk assessment.

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