WASHINGTON – Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation today to direct the Food and Drug Administration to narrow loopholes that have allowed chemical companies to decide whether food chemicals are safe to eat.
The Toxic Free Food Act directs the FDA to update a rule so that food companies would be prohibited from selling products with chemicals that have not been proven safe. It requires companies to provide the FDA and the public with safety data and makes clear that new chemicals and chemicals linked to cancer cannot be generally recognized as safe.
The bill also requires the FDA to modernize its approach to evaluating chemical safety and systematically reassess the safety of chemicals of concern in food.
“None of us should have to worry about the safety of our food,” said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs. “But for too long, the FDA has let food and chemical companies decide whether toxic ‘forever chemicals’ like PFAS are safe to eat. The Toxic Free Food Act will put the FDA in charge of food safety, not food and chemical companies.”
Recent studies have reinforced the need to modernize FDA’s food chemical review system.
- A House oversight committee report recently found high levels of toxic metals in baby food. In response, members of Congress have introduced the Baby Food Safety Act, which sets standards for lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
- A scientific panel created by the European Food Safety Authority recently found that titanium dioxide, a color additive used in Skittles and Starburst, “can no longer be considered as safe when used as a food additive.” The panel, citing concerns about titanium dioxide’s genotoxicity, or ability to damage DNA, based its conclusion on a review of hundreds of scientific studies.
- Separately, a new peer-reviewed study by EWG found that TBHQ, a food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods, may harm the immune system.
- A recent analysis found that only one in 877 manufacturer notices to the FDA assessed the combined health impacts from similar chemicals, even though federal law explicitly requires it.
Last year, EWG published “Food Additives State of the Science,” a guide that highlights additives known to increase the risk of cancer, harm the nervous system and disrupt the body’s hormonal balance.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.