Hungry for Information: Public Attitudes Toward Food Nanotechnology and Labeling



What people think about food nanotechnology (nanofood) is under-explored in the United States, especially outside of quantitative surveys. As such, we set out to examine public attitudes toward food nanotechnology in conversational, focus group settings in order to identify policy options for nanofood governance, and in particular, options for labeling. Through analysis of focus groups in six U.S. locations, we found that the vast majority of the participants wanted nanotechnology labels for all types of food products, and most were willing to pay a premium for labeling. Participants cited abilities to choose and avoid potential risk as the main purposes of nanofood labels. However, they recognized that labels alone do not provide much meaning and that information concerning food nanotechnology products needs to be sought and supplied beyond the label to enable informed choices. Additionally, willingness-to-use and risk–benefit perceptions varied according to the position and intended functions of the nanomaterials in food products.