FDA doesn’t know what’s in our food

Today there are over 10,000 additives used in our food, up from about 800 in 1958 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test and assess for safety all ingredients added to food products.

FoodAdditives

This new regulation was in response to public concerns about the ‘strange’ new ingredients being added to the ‘food our grandparents ate.’

But years ago the FDA lost control.

Every year food companies routinely add new ingredients, many of which are not even submitted to the FDA.

It all started through an old loophole that allows companies to claim “additive recognized as safe,” or GRAS.

However, in the last couple of decades as FDA oversight slowed to a crawl and the number of additives skyrocketed, numerous unidentified chemicals and other substances began slipping through without FDA blessing or even knowledge.

“It’s clear that we have no basis to make almost any conclusions about the safety of our current food supply,” said Laura McLeery, an attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. “We don’t know what people are eating.”

Mycoprotein, a fungus-based (GRAS) additive used in some processed foods is now the target of a lawsuit filed by the Bengco family after the death of their 11-year-old son, who ate a Quorn Turk’y burger and soon after went into convulsions, couldn’t breathe and died the next day.

Scientists and consumer groups have been trying to get mycoprotein’s GRAS status revoked by the FDA since 2011, saying it can cause nausea, digestive problems and, in extreme cases such as the Bengco boy, even death from severe anaphylactic reaction.

The Cornucopia Institute, along with a petition containing thousands of signatures, has been appealing to the FDA to revoke the GRAS status of carrageenan, an additive widely used in ice cream, soy and almond milk and cheap yogurts and said to cause digestive problems, diarrhea, constipation and other afflictions.

Methyl eugenol, used in prepared fried foods, cake mixes, microwave popcorn and hydrogenated oils is yet another GRAS approved additive that has come under fire for contributing to cancer, hormone disruption, diabetes, heart disease and damage to fetuses.

But most worrisome are the ingredients unknown to the public—and the FDA.

The issue is not just immediate harm, which is rare. It’s the cumulative affects over a period of time.

The fact is, we just don’t know. And neither does the FDA.

It boggles the mind to contemplate 10,000 chemical additives that are deemed necessary by food companies. Surely only a few well-studied ones would do.

Meanwhile, whole, organic, and homegrown and home prepared foods never sounded so good.

(Also worth noting is that studies of food safety continue to show that dietary supplements remain the safest food category. Be sure to read our next post—tomorrow or the day after—on this very subject.)

Source: Uk.businessinsider.com

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