Organic Consumers Association

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Even the FDA Doesn't Know What Chemicals Are in Your Food

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center Page.

We all have secrets, from small ones (the scale isn't broken, I ate too many cookies!) to bigger ones (yes, we knew for a long time that tobacco kills people).

For more than 50 years, many in the food industry have not had to disclose information to consumers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the safety of chemicals they put in our food. Additives manufacturers have taken advantage of a dysfunctional regulatory system that allows for minimal or no disclosure, is plagued with conflicts of interest, and provides weak oversight of something as vital to our health as food.

For consumers, it's bad enough that most of the ingredients listed in packaged food have hard to pronounce names and we do not always know why they are there; we don't know how much and how many chemicals leach from the packaging into the food; or little is known about the safety of those chemicals because a small percentage are actually tested.

But it gets worse: Companies can add chemicals into our food without ever telling the FDA about their identity, their uses and (wait for it) their safety!    
     


As long as a company designates a chemical as being 'generally recognized as safe,' or GRAS in regulatory parlance, according to FDA's interpretation of the law, it has no responsibility to inform the agency. FDA doesn't know about the safety of an estimated 1,000 chemicals because they aren't disclosed.   

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