Grocery Makers Trade Group to Share Additive Database with FDA

Statement of CSPI Chief Regulatory Affairs Attorney Laura MacCleery


Today the food industry is congratulating itself for sharing a database of its food additive safety studies with regulators at the Food and Drug Administration. That this is seen as a step forward neatly illustrates the dysfunction built into the current system. It is outrageous that FDA doesn’t already have the identity, much less the safety data, of all substances added to the nation’s food supply.

FDA has become too reliant on the corporations’ own safety evaluations. A voluntary submission fails to fix the core problem, which is that there are no appropriately stringent scientific standards for companies’ private safety determinations on food additives, and insufficient review and oversight of those evaluations. While FDA has guidance on the scientific studies that should be conducted, this guidance is rarely followed. And rather than reviewing and approving the safety of all ingredients added to food, FDA allows companies to determine whether ingredients are safe.

Whether these companies’ evaluations are submitted on paper, assembled in a new database, or gift-wrapped with a bow tied around it, it’s no substitute for having independent and rigorous evaluations of suspect additives used in our food. We look forward to learning more about what the industry’s database will have to say about problematic additives. But the FDA shouldn’t treat this new database as if it’s the last word. 

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