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Concerns over the use of nanoparticles, molecule-size particles found in some popular food brands, are on the rise over fears that they may cause health issues.

According to the New York Times, corporate accountability organization, As You Sow, has found that some companies aren’t even aware of the presence of nanoparticles in their products.

The use of nanomaterials can enhance a products flavor and texture—intensifying creaminess and color. Substances such as titanium dioxide, which is used to brighten white substances, were found in popular brands of powdered donuts including Dunkin’ Donuts brand and Hostess. Attempts to survey 2,500 popular food brands on their use of nanomaterials returned disappointing results for As You Sow—only 26 responded.

Their incredibly small size makes it easy for them to move freely. But when those particles enter the body, that can mean potential health issues, reports the Times, ” They have been found in the blood stream after ingestion and inhalation, and while research on their health effects is limited, studies have shown them to have deleterious effects on mice and cells.”

With limited understanding of the potential health risks, advocacy groups like As You Sow are asking for more science on nanomaterials. The EU already requires labeling of foods containing nanomaterials, and it also created support documents to help guide producers looking to use nanomaterials in their food or animal feed.

But here in the U.S., the FDA issued a statement on nanomaterials last year, saying there wasn’t enough data available yet to determine their safety.

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Image: Qfamily