The food industry has been criticised for being secretive about its use of nanotechnology by the UK's House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.
Lord Krebs, chairman of the inquiry, said the industry "wants to keep a low profile" to avoid controversy. While there were no clear dangers, he said, there were "gaps in knowledge".
In its report Nanotechnologies and Food, the committee suggests a public register of foods or packaging that make use of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is the use of very small particles - measured in the billionths of a metre. At these sizes, particles have novel properties and there is active investigation into how those properties arise.
While nanotechnology is already widely employed - in applications ranging from odour-free socks to novel cancer therapeutic methods - they have long been regarded as a subject requiring further study to ensure their safety. In the food sector, nanotechnology can be employed to enhance flavour and even to make processed foods healthier by reducing the amount of fat and salt needed in production.
Peers said in the report that they found it "regrettable that the food industry was refusing to talk about its work in the area".