The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance and a fact sheet on the use of nanotechnology in food production.

The agency’s guidance describes the variables that food manufacturers should consider when determining whether use of nanotechnology and other processes create a significant change in food substances.

The FDA said its guidance helps manufacturers determine if nanotechnology affects the identity, safety and regulatory status of the food, and whether the product warrants a regulatory submission to the FDA.

A fact sheet on nanotechnology is also available from the FDA.

Nanotechnology uses particles so small they can’t be seen with a regular microscope. The technology has a broad range of potential applications, particularly in the packaging of food. For example, some researchers have developed experimental techniques to use nanoparticles in packaging to provide ethylene control and extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.