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NewsBites January 2012 Issue

Who Confirms Food Additives Are Safe? Not Always the FDA

If you assume the government has checked the safety of all the additives in your food, a new report led by the Pew Health Group has news for you: About a third of all food additives have been deemed safe only by food manufacturers, without review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The report blames the nation’s 50-year-old system for regulating food additives, especially changes made in the mid-1990s, in which producers can self-affirm such ingredients as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). When they do so, manufacturers are not required to inform the FDA, though they typically do. The report also criticized a lack of transparency in the current system, saying, “In an age of growing demand for government transparency, there is virtually no meaningful opportunity for participation in decisions about large classes of substances added to the food supply.”

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