Consumers Wanting Food Label Transparency are Less Trusting of Scientists: Study

A new study tested what types of consumers were most likely to want nanoparticles in their food to be labeled.

The takeaway:  It turns out that those consumers who want GMO food labels are also more inclined to want food containing nanoparticles labeled as well.  Currently nanoparticles are present in an abundance of processed food items sans any notice to consumers (“currently, the U.S. does not require labeling the more than 1,800 nano products on the market”).

The researchers in this latest study also concluded that consumers who want nanoparticles in their food labeled tend to be less trusting of scientists and scientific authorities. (Translation: Ignorant.)

Study overview and conclusions

Researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 adults in the U.S. to collect their views on GMOs, nanotechnology and labeling products available for purchase. They found that those who believe GMOs are beneficial are less likely to support labeling of nano products, even if they don’t believe nanotechnology has many benefits. They also found that those who are less trusting of scientific authorities are more inclined to favor labeling nano products if they do not think GMOs are beneficial to society. The findings could help businesses and regulating agencies understand how consumers view emerging technologies and better inform shoppers’ purchasing decisions.

“If consumers are grouping together these two different technologies, they could potentially be basing their attitudes on nanotechnology on past beliefs, instead of the facts. That means they could be limiting their choices and missing out on effective products.”

-Heather Akin, study author and assistant professor in the Missouri School of Journalism

Journal Reference: Heather Akin, Sara K. Yeo, Christopher D. Wirz, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos, Elizabeth A. Corley. Are attitudes toward labeling nano products linked to attitudes toward GMO? Exploring a potential ‘spillover’ effect for attitudes toward controversial technologies. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2018.1495026

Study overview

A Different Perspective

At CFL we have a different perception.  Namely, rather than being ignorant, those consumers who are demanding transparency on food labels, including disclosure of GMOs and Nanoparticles, tend to be better educated consumers on the topic of food additives and health.  They not only want safety testing with these additives but they are also aware of the growing body of scientific research studies on this topic, including the potential link of nanoparticles in food and adverse health consequences for some people. Take for example, the ubiquitous food additive nanoparticle “titanium dioxide” * :

Titanium Dioxide Effects on the Intestines: Before and After shots

titanium dioxide effect on intestines before and after shots

Food Additive:

Nanoparticle Titanium Dioxide


Where Found:

This additive is present in
processed foods
containing nanoparticles
common on grocery
shelves, and in fast food
and conventional
restaurant foods.
Frequently unlabeled in
U.S. foods (though
nanoparticles are required
to be labeled in EU
countries) this additive is
used as a white pigment
food coloring for
processed foods such as
skim milk, white cheese,
yogurt, frosting/frosted
foods, icing, candies,
snack foods, mayonnaise,
salad dressings, powdered
sugar, marshmallows,
pudding, breakfast toaster
pastries, and non-diary
coffee creamer, among
many others. It is also
commonly used in
medicines and toothpaste.


Red Flags:

Scientists are still
determining the health
safety and potential health
hazards of nanoparticles in
food. According to the
professional organization
American Society of Safety
Engineers, ingested
nanoparticles can be
absorbed through small
nodules in intestinal tissue
(Peyer’s Plaques) that are
part of the immune defense
system. If nanoparticles
enter the digestive system
and proceed into the
bloodstream, they can
potentially move throughout
the body and cause damage.
Additionally, “Nanoparticles
may also accumulate in
certain organs, disrupt and
impair biological, structural
and metabolic processes and
weaken the immune
Animals studies have
demonstrated that
nanoparticle ingestion
changes the structure of the
lining of the intestinal walls.
Among other potential
problems, such structural
changes hold the potential
for over-absorption of
harmful compounds.

Additionally, research has
indicated there are potential
adverse health effects
of nanoparticles on
respiratory and
cardiovascular systems, and

studies of manufactured
nanoparticles have
demonstrated toxic

titanium dioxide worsens colitis

Among other health-related
issues researchers are
studying the potential link
between Titanium Dioxide
nanoparticles in food and an
increased risk for
inflammatory bowel diseases
such as Crohn’s disease and

(Note: Titanium Dioxide has
recently been classified by
the International Agency for
Research on Cancer (IARC)
as an IARC Group 2B
carcinogen: ”possibly
carcinogenic to humans”.
This classification was based
on scientific studies
demonstrating that rats
exposed through inhalation
and intratracheal
instillation of Titanium
Dioxide nanoparticle dust
developed respiratory tract
cancer. Earlier human
studies have failed to
indicate the development of
lung or respiratory tract
cancer from Titanium
Dioxide nanoparticle dust
inhalation in occupational
settings; more studies are

*Source: The Food Hacker’s Handbook: A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction