FDA Allows Manufacturers to Self-Regulate Safety of New Ingredients
Check the ingredients label on almost any food product and most likely there are substances never approved by the federal government.
Since the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has largely abdicated responsibility for testing new food ingredients. Instead of government scientists testing new flavorings or preservatives, manufacturers’ own labs or those they contract with perform the assessments.
The FDA acknowledges in writing that a company has certified an ingredient as safe, without affirming or denying this declaration.
This system has resulted in “the vast majority of new ingredients added to U.S. food” over the last 15 years never receiving a safety determination from the government,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
FDA officials contend the system is “pragmatic” and avoids “wasteful use of government and industry resources.” But government watchdogs and public interest organizations disagree.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report two years ago that criticized the FDA’s oversight of new ingredients. The GAO called for more regulation, as well as random audits of manufacturers’ safety assessments.
To Learn More:
Who Determines Safety of New Food Ingredients? (by Monica Eng, Chicago Tribune)
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