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FDA NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: April 20, 2012
Media Inquires: Curtis Allen, 301-796-0393, curtis.allen@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA issues draft guidance on nanotechnology
Documents address use of nanotechnology by food and cosmetics industries

Two draft guidance documents that address the use of nanotechnology by the food and cosmetics industries were issued today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Nanotechnology is an evolving technology that allows scientists to create, explore, and manipulate materials on a scale measured in nanometers – particles so small that they can not be seen with a regular microscope. The technology has a broad range of potential applications, such as the packaging of food or altering the look and feel of cosmetics.

The two draft guidance documents are: “Guidance for Industry: Assessing the Effects of Significant Manufacturing Process Changes, including Emerging Technologies, on the Safety and Regulatory Status of Food Ingredients and Food Contact Substances, Including Food Ingredients that are Color Additives” and “Guidance for Industry: Safety of Nanomaterials in Cosmetic Products.”

The food draft guidance describes the factors manufacturers should consider when determining whether changes in manufacturing processes, including those involving nanotechnology, create a significant change that may:

  • affect the identity of the food substance;
  • affect the safety of the use of the food substance;
  • affect the regulatory status of the use of the food substance; or
  • warrant a regulatory submission to FDA.

The cosmetic product draft guidance discusses the FDA’s current thinking on the safety assessment of nanomaterials when used in cosmetic products. Key points include:

  • The legal requirements for cosmetics manufactured using nanomaterials are the same as those for any other cosmetics. While cosmetics are not subject to premarket approval, companies and individuals who market cosmetics are legally responsible for the safety of their products and they must be properly labeled.
  • To conduct safety assessments for cosmetic products containing nanomaterials, standard safety tests may need to be modified or new methods developed.

Both guidances encourage manufacturers to consult with the agency before taking their products to market. Such consultation can help FDA experts address questions related to the safety or other attributes of nanotechnology products, or answer questions about their regulatory status.

Strong science is critical to FDA’s ongoing review of the products it regulates.  FDA is investing in an FDA-wide nanotechnology regulatory science program to further enhance FDA’s scientific capabilities, including developing necessary data and tools to identify properties of nanomaterials and assess the impact they may have on products. 

“Understanding nanotechnology remains a top FDA priority. FDA is strengthening the scientific tools and methods for evaluating food products, cosmetics, drugs and medical devices,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “We are taking a prudent scientific approach to assess each product on its own merits and to not make broad, general assumptions about the safety of nanotechnology products.”

The FDA’s current thinking concerning nanomaterials for food and cosmetics uses, explained in the two guidance documents, is not intended to provide guidance to manufacturers about the use of nanomaterials in other products, such as drugs or medical devices, regulated by the FDA.

In order to ensure that FDA considers comments on these draft guidances in developing the final guidances, electronic or written comments should be submitted within 90 days of the publication of the notices of availability in the Federal Register. The FDA will carefully consider all relevant, substantive comments during the development of the final guidance documents.

Electronic comments should be submitted to http//www.regulations.gov. Written comments should be submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

For more information:

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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