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Food Producers to Offer Data on Chemical Additives:Trade Group Moves to Head Off Pressure for Transparency

The Wall Street Journal – August 27, 2014

Big food producers are moving to try to head off criticism of how they use additives, with a main industry group saying it plans to give more

information to regulators about how companies determine the safety of the thousands of chemicals and other ingredients in processed foods.

The announcement on Wednesday by the Grocery Manufacturers Association covers ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration allows to be used under a principle known as “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. Rather than being approved by the FDA itself, such ingredients–which provide foods with flavors, textures, colors or longer shelf-life–are deemed permissible by companies based on their own research.

Some consumer advocates and health groups have criticized the food industry and the FDA in recent years over the GRAS system, which the critics say involves insufficient oversight of these ingredients. Industry officials say it is needed to avoid cumbersome and time-consuming regulatory procedures for all new ingredients.

The GMA, which represents big food companies like Nestlé and Kraft Foods Group Inc. said as part of its voluntary move, it will share with the FDA a database of safety information from the companies for these ingredients to give the agency increased visibility on the ingredients used in the food supply. The GMA said it also would make the database available to “other stakeholders,” without elaborating.

The GMA, which represents big food companies like Nestlé and Kraft Foods Group Inc. said as part of its voluntary move, it will share with the FDA a database of safety information from the companies for these ingredients to give the agency increased visibility on the ingredients used in the food supply. The GMA said it also would make the database available to “other stakeholders,” without elaborating.

Dr. Leon Bruner, the GMA’s chief science officer, said that the initiative will help to “strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are and will remain the safest available in the world.”

Read more from the source: WSJ