Consumers Union: New FDA Rule on GRAS Unacceptable, Fails Consumers

Experts

Communications Director
Media Relations Associate

Friday, August 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued a final rule on its criteria for determining whether food ingredients are “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS.

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, and other leading consumer and environmental groups have been critical of FDA for failing to ensure there is a sufficient level of science in determining the safety of ingredients in the food supply.

Consumers Union said today’s new rule puts an official stamp on current practice, which allows food companies to introduce new ingredients into food without any notice to FDA or the public. The term can be confusing to consumers, as a 2016 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that many consumers (77 percent) believe that ‘GRAS’ means the FDA has evaluated the ingredient and deems it to be safe, or the FDA keeps track of the new ingredient’s safety and use (66 percent), though neither statement is true.

Laura MacCleery, Vice President of Policy and Mobilization for Consumer Reports, said, “FDA missed a major opportunity to clean up the food system. This final rule on the safety of food ingredients fails consumers. Companies will still be able to introduce novel substances into food in secret, without having to show they are safe.  The agency also failed to fix the rampant conflicts of interest that affect the review process for ingredients. That is unacceptable and deeply disappointing.”

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Contact:  David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org or Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org202-462-6262

Consumers Union is the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports.  Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization.  Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.  Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.