used in tiny amounts, have been linked to cancer in lab animals. Sponsors say a “zero tolerance” policy should be applied to the following substances: Benzophenone, Ethyl acrylate, Eugenyl methyl ether, Myrcene, Pulegone, Pyridine, Styrene and Trans,trans-2,4-hexadienal.
Trans,trans-2,4-hexadienal has been “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) since 1974. The other seven substances have been GRAS since 1965. For these substances to be GRAS, they must only be used in minute amounts. For instance, the legal limit for pyridine in ice cream is 1 part per million. The petition sponsors, however, believe that a zero policy tolerance should be applied and that none of these substances should be on the GRAS list.
The following organizations are represented in the petition: Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Improving Kids’ Environment, and individual scientists Maricel Maffini and James Huff.
“The explicit prohibition is essential because their use has been allowed by FEMA for more than 40 years in food and clarity is necessary to prevent their continued use,” the petitions says. “Mere revocation of approved food additive status would be insufficient under current law and rules to assure that companies would stop using them pursuant to a private GRAS determination regarding a particular condition of use.”
While the petition points out that the flavorings “may be found” in ice cream, baked goods, candy and beverages, it is generally unknown which products contain these additives. “Consumers are vulnerable, the government isn’t doing its job and the food industry is calling the shots,” said NRDC’s director of health programs Erik Olson. “The FDA should be doing much more to ensure our food is safe, and that should start with obeying the law by banning these synthetic flavorings known to cause cancer in animals, rather than just continuing to let the food industry have its way.”