Additives in food; Artificial flavors and color
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a list of food additives generally recognized as safe. Many have not undergone any testing, but they are regarded as safe by the scientific community. These substances are put on the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list, which contains approximately 700 items. Examples of some of the items on this list are: guar gum, sugar, salt, and vinegar. The list is evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Safe is defined by Congress as "reasonable certainty that no harm will result from use" of an additive. Some substances that are found to be harmful to people or animals may be allowed, but only at the level of 1/100th of the amount that is considered harmful. This margin of safety is a protection for the consumer by limiting the intake of a dangerous substance. For example, some people are allergic to sulfites, and their reaction can be mild or very severe. People with any allergies or food intolerances should always check the ingredient listing (label) for their own protection.
The list of additives has been changed dramatically since the time the government began overseeing its safety. It is still important to gather information about the safety of food additives. The general public is encouraged to inform the FDA of any adverse reactions related to food or food additives.
Food Ingredients and Colors.International Food Information Council (IFIC) and
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. November 2004; revised April 2010. Available at:
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