Food Law News - UK - 2011

FSA News Item, 21 April 2011

NANOTECHNOLOGY - Views on nanotechnology: research published

The FSA has published a report of consumers' views on the use of nanotechnology in food and food packaging. The focus group research, which asked participants about their views on nanotechnology in late 2010 and early 2011, was carried out as part of the FSA's programme of work on nanotechnology.

The main findings of the research are that:

Andrew Wadge, FSA Chief Scientist, said: 'This research suggests that although consumers may be sceptical about the motives behind the introduction of nanotechnology in food, they are more likely to look more favourably on its use when they perceive a real benefit to them. I believe it's for regulators and the industry to be transparent and to work together to explain to people what nanotechnology is and how it can be used in food.'

The Food Standards Agency is working with interested parties to gather intelligence on the use of nanotechnologies in food, and is also developing a UK register of foods that use nanotechnology. This work is being overseen by the Agency’s Nanotechnologies and Food Discussion Group.

The science behind the story

The consumer research was undertaken by TNS-BMRB between November 2010 and February 2011. Research was undertaken in six areas, with 120 members of the public recruited to reflect a cross-section of society. Research was conducted in three waves and was deliberative – with materials and information provided to participants to enable an informed debate.

It is important to note that the methods employed in this research were qualitative in nature. This approach was adopted to allow for individuals’ views and experiences to be explored in detail. Qualitative methods neither seek, nor allow, data to be given on the numbers of people holding a particular view, nor having a particular set of experiences. The aim of qualitative research is to define and describe the range of emergent issues and explore linkages, rather than to measure their extent.

The full details of the research can be found on the FSA website. See: FSA Citizens' Forums: Nanotechnology and food

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