FDA: Cancer causing flavor additives
This lawsuit led to an FDA ban of seven food additives that can cause cancer.
In May 2018, CSPI along with a coalition of health, consumer, and environmental advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to force FDA to decide whether to prohibit seven cancer causing chemicals (i.e., benzophenone; ethyl acrylate; eugenyl methyl ether; myrcene; pulegone; pyridine; and styrene) from being able to be used in food as flavors.
2015 Food Additive Petition
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act prohibits the use of any food additive found to induce cancer in humans or animals. Since FDA first approved the seven chemicals at issue, multiple scientific authorities had linked these flavors to cancer. Accordingly, CSPI and its coalition partners submitted a food additive petition at FDA in 2015 to revoke its approval of the flavors, arguing that the flavors cannot be lawfully used in food.
After years of inactivity on the petition, we asked the court to require FDA to act on our 2015 request. Specifically, we argued that FDA’s delay violated the congressional mandate that FDA respond to any petition concerning food additive safety within 180 days.
Just three months after we filed the lawsuit (in October 2018), FDA revoked its approval of six of the seven flavor additives. The industry had agreed to abandon all food uses of the seventh, styrene.
The lawsuit was filed in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit because the relevant law required litigation be filed in a federal court of appeals and the action was started by filing a Petition for Writ of Mandamus.
Key legal documents