A recent article by Pew experts concludes that the science the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to assess the safety of food additives has not kept pace with recent scientific developments, and the agency should review and retool its approach to making decisions about the safety of chemicals used in food and packaging in the United States.
Maricel Maffini, Heather Alger and Tom Neltner of Pew’s food additives program joined Erik Olson, Pew’s senior director for food programs to write “Looking back to Look Forward: A Review of FDA’s Food Additives Safety Assessment and Recommendations for Modernizing its Program,” published in July 2013 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, a peer-reviewed journal of the Institute of Food Technologists.
The article identifies nine areas of concern raised more than 30 years ago by an FDA-convened committee that are remain relevant and unresolved. Further, the agency has not taken a leadership role in updating guidelines to evaluate behavioral impacts, endocrine disruptors, or effects on children. The agency’s practice of allowing food manufacturers to self-declare that a chemical is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) without notifying the agency has limited FDA’s role in the decision-making process and inhibited its scientific progress.
The authors recommend that FDA:
- Convenes its Food Advisory Committee to review the process by which chemical additives are assessed for safety and make recommendations; and
- Fixes the GRAS process to ensure that the agency has the opportunity to review and has the final say in all safety safety assessments.
- Date added:
- Jul 10, 2013
- Food Additives Project
On Wednesday, August 7, 2013, the Food Additives Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts hosted a multi-stakeholder workshop that discussed approaches to managing these conflicts of interest. The workshop was meant to explain the concerns that have been raised regarding the potential for COI in GRAS selfdeterminations, and identify and discuss approaches to resolving those concerns.More info
The peer-reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology published a paper from The Pew Charitable Trusts' food additives project examining the data used to make safety recommendations for chemicals added to food sold in the United States. The analysis of three major sources of toxicology information found significant gaps in the data for chemicals that are added to food and food packaging.More info
"All of the notices U.S. regulators received to vouch for the safety of common food additives between 1997 and 2012 were submitted by people who had a vested interest in the outcome of those assessments, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Wednesday."More info
"Experts selected by the food industry have often been the ones approving the safety of food additives for the past 15 years, a new report claims."More info
"How safe are the additives that make your food tastier, thicker, more vitamin-filled or less likely to spoil? It depends on how much you trust the companies that make those additives. A study out today finds that the scientists who judge the safety work for the additive manufacturers or for consultants they've hired."More info
According to a new article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, financial conflicts of interest are ubiquitous when food company employees, paid consultants or professional experts conclude that chemicals are "generally recognized as safe" and can be added to food. The article was co-authored by researchers from The Pew Charitable Trusts.More info
"Amid growing public concern over the safety of additives in products ranging from caffeinated energy drinks to industrial chemicals in food containers and water bottles, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to reexamine its rules, and there are signs it may do so."More info
The complexity of our food supply and the oversight of its safety raise fundamental questions about what we eat — some of which were answered for the first time in "Navigating the U.S. Food Additive Regulatory Program," an analysis undertaken by Pew and published in the peer-reviewed journal, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. The following "frequently asked questions" summarize the findings and conclusions of this article.More info
From oil in Gatorade to the amount of caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks and the so-called "pink slime" found in beef, previously unnoticed ingredients are coming under scrutiny as health-conscious consumers demand more information about what they eat and drink, and sometimes go public via social networking and the Internet.More info
More than 70 stakeholders examined how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that people are exposed to safe levels of chemicals in food.The proceedings, published in the January 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, lay out participants’ perspectives for enhancing the FDA’s methods.More info
Sarah Kavanagh and her little brother were looking forward to the bottles of Gatorade they had put in the refrigerator after playing outdoors one hot, humid afternoon last month in Hattiesburg, Miss. But before she took a sip, Sarah, a dedicated vegetarian, did what she often does and checked the label to make sure no animal products were in the drink. One ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, caught her eye.More info
"Grocery shoppers examining colorful packages bearing long lists of hard-to-pronounce ingredients might take comfort in the belief that those substances were deemed safe by the government. But that's not the case. Over the past 15 years, the vast majority of new ingredients added to U.S. food never received a safety determination from the government."More info