There are greater than 10,000 food chemicals in U.S. food. Neither consumers nor even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knows for sure just how many additives have made their way into the food supply. That is because the FDA has essentially turned over the monitoring of food chemicals to Big Food themselves. (See our paper here: Big Food, the FDA and the GRAS System: Examining Key Factors behind Questionable Additives in Your Food)
The real problem with the FDA’s current rules for their “GRAS” system is that new additives are being dumped into the U.S. food supply on an ongoing basis, sans any peer-reviewed, scientific safety testing. Are these additives harmful to consumers? There is no way to know–especially when the FDA has also left it up to the big food companies to report the use of new additives. This has left the FDA–and consumers–in the dark, not knowing what new additives have entered the food supply, which foods they are in, and what their potential risks to health and well-being may be.
To help redress the serious flaws in the current food chemical testing and approval process, yet another lawsuit has been filed against the FDA by food safety advocates. While the likelihood this suit will get any further than the ones before it is slim, it is still an important tactic to keep the spotlight and the pressure on the FDA in the hopes that one day they may actually be forced to do the job they have been charged with…
Groups sue FDA over food additive rule
A coalition of consumer and health groups is challenging a Food and Drug Administration rule that allows manufacturers to decide what can be added to processed foods.
The Center for Food Safety and four other groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday claiming the agency is illegally allowing self-interested food and chemical manufacturers to determine which chemical additives in food are safe.
“Under the procedures and criteria laid out in the GRAS Rule, manufacturers of substances used in processed food can self-certify—without notice to FDA or the public, and in furtherance of their own financial interests—that a use of substance is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ or GRAS.”
The groups argue that the agency’s GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe,” rule that was finalized last August violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA)–the 1938 FDCA law requires the FDA to confirm the safety of a substance before it can be introduced into the food supply. The groups are asking the court to toss out the (GRAS) rule and order the FDA to follow the FDCA.
“Most Americans would be shocked to learn that FDA allows novel chemicals onto the market without a safety review. Yet, FDA’s practice on GRAS additives flouts the law and leaves the agency unaware of what chemicals are being added to our food and with no way to ensure that these additives—and the food that contains them—are safe.” — Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director at Environmental Defense Fund