WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is adopting a plan to make the process of determining if an ingredient is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) more transparent. The initiative comes at a time when the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the GRAS determination process and considering changes.

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products,” said Leon Bruner, chief science officer for GMA. “In the spirit of that ongoing commitment, today we are launching a modernization initiative that will improve the process and increase transparency for making generally recognized as safe [GRAS]determinations of ingredients added to food.”

An initial first step in the process will be for the GMA to define a standard that will provide guidance on how to conduct ingredient safety assessments that are transparent. The procedures will be documented in a publicly available standard (PAS), according to the association.

Development of the PAS will be done by an independent group of technical experts through a public review process.

The GMA said it also is creating a program to ensure the FDA has increased visibility to the ingredients that are assessed as GRAS by the food industry. The program will consist of a database that will list information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry.

The association also has committed to expanding its curriculum of GRAS education and training programs in order to further increase the capability of scientists who assess ingredients for use in food and beverage products.

Launched in the spring of 2014, the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety at Michigan State Univ. will serve as an independent resource regarding the safety of ingredients.

“GRAS determinations of ingredients added to food are but one of many important procedures the industry uses to provide consumers with the safe, quality and innovative product choices they demand,” Bruner said. “We are confident that this initiative along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act will strengthen the food-safety programs used by the entire food industry and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by US manufacturers are and will remain the safest available in the world.”