Labelling of consumer products is increasingly playing a role in risk communication and management. Many civil society organisations have called for the labelling of products containing nanomaterials to enable consumers to make well-informed purchase decisions. Industry, on the other hand, has reservations about “nano-labelling”, arguing that it could cause consumer uncertainty and create anxieties.
Within Europe to date, cosmetics are the only consumer product on which a mandatory labelling requirement has been placed, with the new Cosmetics Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009) requiring labelling of nanomaterials in the ingredients list (name of the ingredient, followed by 'nano' in brackets). Several proposals have also been made regarding the labelling of nanomaterials in food products but, as yet, no formal regulatory requirement has been agreed. It therefore remains difficult for consumers to determine if a particular product contains nanomaterials.
In 2013, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) published guidance on the voluntary labelling for consumer products containing manufactured nanomaterials (ISO, 2013) with a view to facilitating a harmonised approach and furthering transparency.