EWG’s Statement on FDA’s Finalized ‘GRAS Rule’

WASHINGTON – EWG Legislative Attorney Melanie Benesh issued the following statement today in response to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s announcement Friday that it finalized its rule governing voluntary notifications to the agency when new substances are added to food.

EWG is disappointed the FDA has decided to once again ignore its legal obligation to ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply. The agency will continue to allow companies to add new substances to our food without notifying the FDA. The new rule makes minor tweaks to a system that has failed to protect consumers for almost 20 years, but does nothing to address its central deficiency: The FDA can neither assess the safety of individual substances before they are added to our food, nor monitor the ongoing effects of these additives on our health if manufacturers are not even required to inform the agency about their use of such chemicals.

The so-called “GRAS loophole” – originally intended to only allow known ingredients proven safe to skip regulatory approval – has swallowed the law, permitting novel chemicals to be added to food without government oversight. EWG will continue to demand that the FDA scrutinize and appropriately regulate all food ingredients as the law intended, especially those substances that may pose a threat to consumers, including infants and children, who are most susceptible to risks from unregulated chemicals and other additives in food.

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