Who Decides Which Food Additives are Safe?

Safe Additives??
Safe Additives??

There are over 10,000 additives that are allowed to be used in foods in the U.S.  Of those, 43% are considered to be “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS.  So how do they decide which ones are safe?

The answer.  The company manufacturing and selling the additive gets to decide which are safe.  This all came about in a law from 1958 when Congress decided the food additive manufacturers could determine what was safe to put into food.  At that time, this mostly covered ingredients such as oils, salt, rosemary, and vinegar.  Unfortunately, the number of chemicals created and added to our foods has grown tremendously, but this law from 1958 is still being used.

Some of the GRAS additives that are included as being safe include BHA, BHT, MSG, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Propionate and Propane.

In 1997 the FDA told the food additive manufacturers that they could decide if the new chemical additives they developed were safe and that they should let the FDA know, but they didn’t have to.

In a recent study published on August 7 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researcher Thomas Neltner looked at how the food additive industry decides which products are GRAS.  They found that about 1,000 new additives were never submitted to the FDA so they analyzed 451 voluntary notifications that were submitted between 1997 and 2010.  The FDA makes a decision to call an additive GRAS by “a reasonable certainty in the minds of the competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use.”  So, you ask.  Who are those scientists?  In the 451 cases investigated, it was found that:

  • 22.4% of the safety assessments were made by an employee of the chemical manufacturer.
  • 13.3% were made by an employee of a consulting firm hired by the additive manufacturer.
  • 64.3% were made by an expert panel that was hired by either the additive company or by their paid consultant.

The investigators also found that many of the same people who were hired on these panels had also been paid consultants for those additive industries.

As Thomas Neltner said “At least when you put a new chemical on the market, you have to notify the EPA.  But there is no requirement that you notify the FDA when you make a new food additive.”

This is just so wrong.  We are eating so much more in the form of chemicals and additives that our bodies just weren’t meant to consume.  That is why is is so important to read the labels and try to do the best you can when choosing your food.  The more ingredients listed, the more likely it will have many chemical additives.

Click on this first link and go down almost to the bottom to see the video on how many ingredients are in just one sub sandwich.  You’ll be amazed.  Also, for more information on the study, click on the second link below…

The Truth about Food Additives | Rodale News

Who decides whether a food additive is safe? The food – Later On


Inside Your Food