By: Nikki Nies
Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) is an acronym used under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and on food labels to declare the FDA has declared food additives have been reviewed and received approval of being safe under its intended use. A GRAS product may be labeled such if tested under scientific procedures and/or food substance has been used before 1958 through experience based on common use. Food manufacturers are independently allowed to discern if their products are GRAS and are not obliged to explain and/or share their GRAS determination. Scary, right?!? The FDA uses the understanding that food products are “innocent until proven guilty.”
The process that must be executed to become GRAS is lengthy, yet allows a lot of “scary” ingredients and products through. The word “safe” is quite relative. Many pre packaged, processed foods have been listed as GRAS, yet we see time and time again the direct relationship of such products on the obesity epidemic. The ingredient list of such products has more words that are hard to pronounce and recognize, requiring a scientific dictionary on hand to decipher such ingredient facts. The level of complexity and understanding that’s needed to wrap one’s head around the preservation and production method can give one a headache.
While the word “safe” is part of the acronym, critics of FDA’s system don’t find that the listing holds up any merit. While a lot of GMO foods have been GMOs, what does that tell us? How “good” is the legislation and regulation of GRAS products when there’s been adverse effects linked to use of GMO products? If you’ve got the time, check out this Food Additives video. What’re your thoughts?
Photo Credit: Super Beta Glucan