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 Have you had your minimum daily requirement of “nanos” today?

Nanomaterials, that is – manufactured or natural substances that are broken down in high-tech facilities to be teensie-tiny, molecule-sized particles. Don’t look for them on the ingredient list of food packages, because the big corporate processors of our edibles don’t want us to know that their goodies include these miniscule, mysterious “things” that, when ingested, go to places in the body that regular foodstuffs don’t directly enter – such as straight into your cells.

There has been precious little research on the human health impacts of nanos – though studies have shown them having unpleasant effects on mice. Also, our food regulators have flatly (and ominously) said they don’t have enough information even to evaluate the safety of nanomaterials.

So why are they popping up in processed foodstuffs? No one is talking – except a few anonymous food manufacturers who express enthusiasm for the ability for the whatever-they-are to make processed foods seem “creamier” and to “brighten” food colors.

A watchdog group called As You Sow sent a survey to 2,500 food manufacturers asking about their use of nanos. A whopping 26 responded, only 14 of which claimed not to use the things. The group ran its own test of 10 varieties of powdered doughnuts, finding that the sweet concoctions of Hostess Brands and Dunkin’ Donuts had products containing a nano called titanium dioxide. What benefit does it offer? It makes white substances brighter.