At Last! FDA Bans Use of 7 Synthetic Food Additives

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of 7 synthetic food additives used to mimic natural flavors like mint and cinnamon. [1]

You’ve probably never heard of benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine, because food manufacturers are permitted to label them as “artificial flavors.”

But none of these additives will ever be used in food products again, though the FDA is giving manufacturers time to remove them from the food supply.

The move follows a petition brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), and other environmental and consumer groups.

Erik Olson of NRDC called the decision “a win for consumers,” saying the group’s petition “laid out the science” linking the additives to cancer.

“The law is very clear that any chemical that causes cancer is not supposed to be added to our food supply.”

In a statement on the petition, the FDA said it had concluded that the chemicals were safe for consumers, but not for animals.

“The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposures and low risk.

While the FDA’s recent exposure assessment of these substances does not indicate that they pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use, the petitioners provided evidence that these substances caused cancer in animals who were exposed to much higher doses.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program tested the additives and found they caused cancer in 2 species of lab animals, the FDA said. [2]

Under the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, any substance that is found to cause cancer in humans or animals cannot be used as a food additive. [1]

Six of the substances will be removed from the agency’s food additives list based on the NRDC’s evidence that they are carcinogenic to animals, the FDA said. The 7th substance, styrene, will be removed simply because it is no longer used by the food industry.

According to the NRDC, the de-listed additives are found in a wide swath of foods, including ice cream, baked goods, beer, gum, and more. But Olson said it is impossible to know how ubiquitous the substances actually are because manufacturers are not legally required to disclose their presence.

The FDA will give manufacturers 2 years to “identify suitable replacement ingredients and reformulate their food products.”

The 6 de-listed additives still used in the industry have a natural counterpart in food or nature, which the FDA said are not affected by the decision. For example, mycrene and eugenol are naturally occurring in basil. [2]

In 2016, the FDA banned 3 other synthetic additives following a petition by the NRDC and a handful of other environmental groups. It began accepting public comment on the 7 newly-banned chemicals, in addition to Trans,trans-2,4-hexadienal.

A regulatory loophole allows food manufacturers to add potentially toxic ingredients to their products without as much as an FDA safety review. What’s more, companies don’t have to inform the agency when it adds one of these substances to a product.

Americans deserve to know what additives go into their food, especially when there is doubt over their safety.

Sources:

[1] NPR

[2] CNN

Lawsuit Alleges LaCroix Sparkling Water Contains Cockroach Insecticide

Sparkling water containing “all natural” flavors is all the rage these days, but one manufacturer is being sued over allegations that its natural ingredients are anything but natural.

Filed against the parent company of LaCroix sparkling water, the lawsuit alleges that the beverages contain artificial ingredients, including one found in cockroach insecticide.

The suit was filed on behalf of customer Lenora Rice and claims that testing revealed the artificial ingredients.

The lawsuit states:

“LaCroix, in fact, contains ingredients that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as synthetic. These chemicals include limonene, which can cause kidney toxicity and tumors; linalool propionate, which is used to treat cancer; and linalool, which is used in cockroach insecticide.”

Thirsty yet?

Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that the makers of LaCroix are aware that the sparkling water contains the ingredients, and are therefore lying to the public.

National Beverage Corp. argues that all of the ingredients in LaCroix are, in fact, 100% natural.

In a statement, the company said:

“The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers ‘natural’ on a food label to be truthful and non-misleading when ‘nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added.”

They further assert: [2]

“Natural flavors in LaCroix are derived from the natural essence oils from the named fruit used in each of the flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, those extracted flavors.”

According to Popular Science, the ingredients in question aren’t dangerous to humans. They give the example of linalool. Though the substance is found in cockroach insecticide, it is found in plants like mint and scented herbs, and therefore is not an artificial ingredient.

However, because the ingredients are listed by the FDA as synthetic, it all boils down to interpretation.

Lawsuits against food companies are increasingly-common as more Americans demand to know exactly what they’re eating. Usually, however, the lawsuits stem from the presence of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients or traces of pesticide or herbicide, such as glyphosate, in products – and of course, those revolving around the big food term ‘natural.’

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] CBS News

ColumbusNewsTeam (featured image source)

Missouri Law Protects Buyers from Unknowingly Purchasing ‘Fake Meat’

On July 28, 2018, a bill went into effect in Missouri that prohibits companies from “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” [1]

The bill, introduced in May, protects buyers from unwittingly purchasing plant-based products marketed as meat. The law applies to meat substitutes, such as soy-based and plant-based meat, as well as “clean” meat grown in the lab that is close to hitting the market.

Companies that violate the law face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

The issue, however, is far from over.

Four organizations – Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLUM), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund – have already sued the state, seeking an injunction to block the law from being enforced. Both sides claim they’re trying to do what is best for buyers who want to know the precise ingredients that go into their meat. [2]

Namely, is it really meat?

Source: Daily Mail

The groups accuse the state of stifling competition from producers in the plant-based protein industry.

Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement: [1]

“As more and more consumers are making the conscious choice to remove animals from their plates, Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers. This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech – which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet.”

Read: 5 Benefits of Reducing Red Meat Consumption

In a statement, the office of Missouri’s attorney general said that “it would seek to defend the constitutionality of state statutes.” [2]

Products like veggie burgers are nothing new, but the products’ growing popularity has triggered a fierce debate over how they should be identified. [1]

Meat-substitute advocates say that meat-substitute producers follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules governing the way food products are represented.

The law has technically gone into effect, and the state is ready to enforce it, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office said.

Spokeswoman Mary Compton said:

“The attorney general’s office will carefully review all referrals from the Department of Agriculture and will take legal action as appropriate under the circumstances to protect Missouri consumers.”

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] The New York Times

Daily Mail