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Mae Wu’s Blog

FDA Is Keeping Many Ingredients in Our Foods Secret From Us

Mae Wu

Posted May 6, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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The Food and Drug Administration has a special knack for making even the simplest tasks complicated and time-consuming. NRDC has been forced to file a lawsuit to get information that should be public in the first place.

The FDA maintains a database that contains an extensive list of chemicals that are approved for use as food additives. These food additives include things like dyes, flavorings, extracts, and other chemicals that can be in our food. But FDA's oversight of these chemicals is rather sparse.

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To get a better idea of the scope of the issue, in early March, NRDC officially requested a copy of the FDA database, called the PAFA (Priority-based Assessment of Food Additives) database. It includes both the names of the chemicals and the basis for the FDA’s approving them for use in food. The statutory deadline for providing this information to us passed on April 5. We are now a month past the deadline, with nothing from FDA. And so, NRDC has been left with the arduous task of suing FDA for this information.

But this isn’t really about the lawsuit. It’s about the fact that this agency has not come clean about the thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals that are pouring into our food every day – that are there with the FDA’s seal of approval. There is so much we don’t know about these food additives, and FDA is refusing to help us find out.

Eventually, we will get this information. And who knows what we are going to find out when we look through it. Is there something there that FDA doesn’t want us to see?  This lawsuit is the first step to answering that question.

 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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