U.S – U.S Senators are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to come up with more stringent regulations on “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)” substances used in food products to ensure the safety of the American population.
Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts has introduced the Ensuring Safe and Toxic Free Foods Act. backed by Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Together, they have also called for the creation of a new office at the FDA to assess safety of chemicals in the US food supply.
“The only mystery families should encounter at mealtime is what’s for dinner, not what’s in dinner. Americans deserve to know that the food at their kitchen table is safe for themselves and their families to eat,” Senator Markey said.
He accused the FDA of failing to meet its obligations of ensuring food safety with a reference to the recent baby formula crisis where it took four months for the agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy to learn about the whistleblower complaint.
“It is long past time we revise existing food safety measures and close the loophole allowing manufacturers to self-regulate what new substances can enter our food supply,” he stated.
The new legislation would direct the FDA to revise the GRAS rule to prohibit manufacturers from designating substances as safe without supplying proper notice and supporting information to the Secretary of Health and Human Service.
It would also require safety information be publicly available on the FDA website with a 90-day period given to enable public review.
“The only mystery families should encounter at mealtime is what’s for dinner, not what’s in dinner.”
In addition, the amendments will bar carcinogenic substances from receiving GRAS designation and prohibit people with conflicts of interest from serving as experts in reviewing and evaluating scientific data with regard to GRAS designations.
“Americans deserve to know what they are eating, and we know that we cannot count on large corporations to put people and safety before profits. This bill is a step forward to help the FDA ensure the food families eat is safe,” Ms. Warren said.
The Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act of 2022 has been endorsed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and Earthjustice.
“It’s unbelievable 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 the foods we eat every day.
“The proposed reforms in the Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act of 2022 are desperately needed to fix FDA’s oversight of food chemicals and keep consumers safe,” said Melanie Benesh, Legislative Attorney for the EWG.