Hope You Like The Taste Of Titanium in That Yogurt

Are you the sort of person who unwinds with a big healthy cup of "Greek" yogurt? Or survives on a three-soy-latte-a-day diet? Well, excellent news: in all cases, this means you are likely ingesting nanoparticles of titanium several times a day.

Mother Jones' Tom Philpott reported yesterday that the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) tracks the addition of tiny particles of metal to a number of foods:

[T]he PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Dannon Greek Plain Yogurt, Silk Original Soy Milk, Rice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey's Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft's iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.

Another of those products PEN found is, you know, milk.

In a world where it is safe to presume that there is literal shit in your meat, an uproar over the metal in milk might seem premature. Metal is clinical, polished, your scrubbed stainless steel sink. And titanium dioxide, as it turns out, is in a lot of things these days, up to and including the sunscreen you're about to rub into your skin all summer long. It's apparently a great whitener and brightener.

But then there is the whole messy matter of "food safety standards," since it seems no one has really tested for the effect of ingesting titanium in nano form:

Back in 2012, the FDA released a draft, pending public comment, of a proposed new framework for bringing nano materials into food. The document reveals plenty of reason for concern. For example: "so-called nano-engineered food substances can have significantly altered bioavailability and may, therefore, raise new safety issues that have not been seen in their traditionally manufactured counterparts." The report went on to note that "particle size, surface area, aggregation/agglomeration, or shape may impact absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) and potentially the safety of the nano-engineered food substance."

What FDA is saying here is obvious: If nanoparticles didn't behave differently, the industry wouldn't be using them in the first place.

And one can't help but wonder whether this is not a first step in a kind of stealth robot apocalypse. First, we get metal in our food. Then, tiny microchips...

[Image via Shutterstock.]