The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued a report claiming that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) generally recognized as safe (GRAs) process for identifying food additives not required to undergo premarket approval is flawed and calling for legislation to change the process.
According to NRDC, minimal FDA supervision and “a gaping loophole that allows companies to simply declare as safe hundreds of chemicals added to our foods—without any notification to the FDA or the public,” mar the u.s. food safety protection system.
Under federal law, substances added to food are deemed food additives subject to FDA’s premarket approval unless they are considered GRAs by qualified experts or otherwise excluded from the food additive definition. While food companies can notify the agency that experts have made a GRAs determination, the law does not required them to do so. NRDC claims that it has identified “275 chemicals from 56 companies [that] appear to be marketed as GRAs and used in many food products based on companies’ safety determinations that, pursuant to current regulations, did not need to be reported to the FDA or the public,” and cites instances in which “companies have sometimes certified their chemicals as safe for use in food despite potentially serious allergic reactions, or adverse reactions in combination with common drugs.” See NRDC Press Release, April 7, 2014.