Despite FDA GRAS Rule, Transparency Debate Over Food Safety Continues

August 24, 2016

How do you know what's in your food and whether it's safe? Despite a new rule from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you don't know.

Food industry and food safety advocates have argued for years over a provision in law that waives many requirements for food ingredients that are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).

It's complicated. When modern food safety law was first being set back in 1958, the FDA grandfathered a list of some 700 long-used ingredients from testing requirements — and allowed food manufacturers to simply notify FDA that new ones were GRAS. FDA struggled to update the rules over the years since. This month, the FDA finally finalized a revision of its GRAS rule.

Food industry groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association generally liked the new rule, saying that it improved transparency. But consumer groups like the Center for Food Safety said it did not go far enough.

If you want to report on this subject, you may want to explore FDA's online database of GRAS notices, available here.

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