GRAS: Generally Recognized As Secret?

Written by: Neal Fortin

Primary Source: Food Law Blog

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report that raises more questions about the US regulatory system for food additive. The report says the GRAS exemption from food additive review by FDA — “generally recognized as safe” — that intended for common food ingredients “has been stretched so most new chemicals pass through it: the loophole has swallowed the law.”

NRDC believes that “Generally Recognized as Secret” rather than “Generally Recognized as Safe” is a better name for the GRAS loophole. A chemical cannot be “generally recognized as safe” if its identity, chemical composition, and safety determination are not publicly disclosed. If the FDA does not know the identity of these chemicals and does not have documentation showing that they are safe to use in food, it cannot do its job.

A PDF of the report is available here.

A summary of the report follows:

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Neal Fortin
Neal Fortin teaches Food Regulation in the United States, International Food Law, Codex Alimentarius, Food & Drug Law, and Nutrition Law & Policy. Before coming to MSU, he was an attorney concentrating in food and drug law. Previously, Neal Fortin worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. He was the primary drafter of the Michigan Food Law of 2000, which streamlined Michigan’s food safety requirements and strengthened the food safety standards for changes in science.
Neal Fortin

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