SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A loophole in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations may be allowing unsafe chemicals in your food, according to the findings of one environmental organization.
The 1958 law allows some ingredients in foods to be considered “generally recognized as safe”, or GRAS. It was intended for ingredients like vinegar and oil, but over the years, companies have used the law for new chemicals.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) looked at some of the chemicals that FDA reviewers expressed concerns about.
The companies determine what’s safe and can submit findings to the FDA for review, but it’s voluntary. They don’t require any approval by the FDA.
Maricel Maffini said one of those chemicals is ECGC, which is found in nutrition bars, carbonated drinks, bottled water and tea.
“FDA’s reviewers were very concerned about this particular chemical having an association with fetal leukemia,” she said.
The company also didn’t address changes in organs during animal testing including the thyroid and liver.
Another chemical that concerns the FDA is theobromine, which is used in bread, cereal, chewing gum and smoothies, because it caused delayed bone formation and testicular degeneration in lab animals.
The concern is that it could wind up in baby food.
Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the NRDC found 275 chemicals used by 56 companies that appear to be marketed as GRAS.
The organization said it’s time for Congress to change the law so that the FDA has oversight and this GRAS program is no longer voluntary.