The FDA has banned seven carcinogenic food additives following a 2015 petition brought by a number of health, consumer, and environmental groups. The additives, which are usually identified only as “artificial flavors” on packaging, are used to lend flavors like cinnamon and mint to food items.
While after investigation, the FDA concluded that the substances are “typically” used “in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposures and low risk,” the agency ultimately decided to delist six of the compounds for use in food, given evidence of their carcinogenic nature in animal tests provided by the groups who brought the petition to the FDA’s attention.
These artificial flavors are: benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine.
The seventh compound, styrene, was delisted because it is no longer used.
The FDA is giving manufacturers 24 months to comply with the new rules.
“Carcinogens have no place in the food we feed our families,” says Erik Olson, Senior Director of Health and Food at the National Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that brought the petition to the FDA. “This is welcome news for millions of Americans who have been unknowingly snacking on cancer-causing chemicals for far too long. FDA’s free pass for these dangerous secret ingredients stops now.”
Other groups involved in the action include Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
The petitioners asked a court to order the FDA to make a final decision on this issue in May.
“While it’s unfortunate that we had to go to court to get FDA to act, we are glad they here took the right decision to protect public health,” says Carrie Apfel, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice.
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