EWG Applauds Senate Bill to Address Food Chemical Safety Gaps

WASHINGTON — The EWG commends Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for introducing legislation today to ensure food chemical safety by closing regulatory loopholes.

The Food Safe and Toxic-Free Guarantee Act would help the Food and Drug Administration prevent harmful substances from entering the food supply, among other measures. Nearly 99% of all food chemicals introduced to the market since 2000 have been cleared for use by the food and chemical industries, not the FDA, according to a recent EWG Analysis.

“Americans deserve to know that the food they serve at the kitchen table is safe for them and their children,” Markey said. “The FDA has a responsibility to promote food safety and responsibility – too often it fails to take that responsibility. It’s time we reviewed existing food safety measures and closed the loophole that allows manufacturers to decide for themselves- even what new substances may enter our food supply.

The chemicals were able to enter the food supply, thanks to a loophole in the Generally Recognized As Safe, or GRAS, rule that allows their manufacturers to approve their use, not the FDA, even though it is the agency responsible for keeping our food safe. . Markey’s bill would direct the FDA to revise the rule to include provisions that:

  • Prohibit manufacturers from designating substances as safe without providing proper notice and supporting information to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Require security information about a substance must be publicly available on the FDA website and subject to a 90-day public review period.
  • Prohibit carcinogens from receiving the GRAS designation.
  • Prohibit substances showing signs of reproductive or developmental toxicity from receiving the GRAS designation.
  • Prevent individuals with direct conflicts of interest from serving as experts in the review and evaluation of scientific data with respect to GRAS designations.

The legislation would also direct the HHS secretary to create an Office of Food Chemical. Safety reassessment within the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The office would be responsible for reassessing the safety of substances already on the market.

“It’s amazing that food companies, not the FDA, decide whether 99% of new chemicals used in food are safe, and that it’s been decades since the FDA evaluated the safety of many chemicals used in food. that we consume every day,” Melanie said. Benesh, legislative attorney for the EWG. “The reforms proposed in the Food Safe and Toxic-Free Guarantee Act of 2022 are desperately needed to correct FDA oversight of food chemicals and keep consumers safe.”

Complementary legislation to Markey’s bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jan Schakowski (Dill.).

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The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that enables people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy, and unique educational tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Norman D. Briggs