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Food Ingredients Eyed

by Melody M. Bomgardner
September 8, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 36

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade group for food and beverage companies, plans to create transparent guidelines for determining when food ingredients are generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. Since 1997, FDA has allowed ingredient companies to make their own GRAS determinations. Companies are not required to share safety data with FDA or to alert the agency that an ingredient will be added to food. Advocate groups consider this a loophole in food safety regulations and have been asking the government to close it. In February, the Center for Food Safety, a public interest group, filed a lawsuit against FDA to vacate the rule. Now, GMA is responding by establishing a public standard for safety assessments. It will establish a program to ensure FDA can easily review ingredients assessed as GRAS by the food industry; the effort will include a GMA-sponsored database of all safety assessments. An April report by the Natural Resources Defense Council identified 275 substances marketed for use in food on the basis of undisclosed GRAS safety determinations. “While industry initiative and cooperation is integral to ensuring the safety of food ingredients, it is not an acceptable substitute for government regulation,” said Donna Solen, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, in a response to the GMA proposal.


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