Recently, it’s been found that many Americans are unknowingly ingesting a plastic yoga mat chemical often found in common foods like bread and soda and that trans fats previously considered “safe” are causing 20,000 heart attacks annually. However, food-safety politics don’t stop there, as recent investigation from a national watchdog group found a gigantic loophole that’s permitting hundreds of murky chemicals into our food supply– and possibly putting our public health in serious danger.
According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), certain food companies are thanking a loophole found in the Food Additives Amendment of 1958 that permits manufacturers to hire their own professionals, oftentimes their own employees, to perform safety reviews of chemical food ingredients. Many of them are even using their own tests to indicate that a new food ingredient fits the “generally recognized as safe,” requirement of the law. Companies don’t even need to submit the company-sponsored safety data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further review.
It’s true: food companies themselves are permitted to dictate whether an ingredient is safe before sending it out into processed foods. At the end of the day, congress has ultimate power in closing the loophole that resides in the federal GRAS law. But the NRDC wants the FDA to limit the activity until that time, pleading with the agency to require a requisite notification if a company decides to self-approve a new chemical being used in food.
The issue comes from an outdated law that fails to align with the modern world’s amount of chemical development for new ingredients in food. The NRDC indicates the exemption was made to prevent a long FDA approval process regarding common ingredients like vegetable oil and vinegar, which are typically considered unharmful in the health community. Years later, companies are using the loophole to approve hundreds of new– and potentially harmful– chemicals to be implemented in tons of food ingredients, NRDC believes.
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