WASHINGTON — Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts has introduced the Ensuring Safe and Toxic Free Foods Act. Co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the new legislation calls for stricter regulation of “Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) substances and the creation of a new office at the Food and Drug Administration to assess safety of chemicals in the US food supply.
“The only mystery families should encounter at mealtime is what’s for dinner, not what’s in dinner,” Markey said. “Americans deserve to know that the food at their kitchen table is safe for themselves and their families to eat. The FDA too often falls short on their responsibility to promote food safety, highlighted recently by the baby formula crisis where FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy did not learn about the whistleblower complaint for four months. It is long past time we revise existing food safety measures and close the loophole allowing manufacturers to self-regulate what new substances can enter our food supply.”
The new legislation would direct the FDA to revise the GRAS rule to include several provisions, including:
• Prohibiting manufacturers from designating substances as safe without supplying proper notice and supporting information to the Secretary of Health and Human Service.
• Requiring safety information be publicly available on the FDA website and subject to a 90-day public review period.
• Prohibiting carcinogenic substances from receiving GRAS designation.
• Prohibiting people with conflicts of interest from serving as experts in reviewing and evaluating scientific data with regard to GRAS designations.
“Americans deserve to know what they are eating, and we know that we cannot count on large corporations to put people and safety before profits,” Warren said. “This bill is a step forward to help the FDA ensure the food families eat is safe.”
The Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act of 2022 has been endorsed by the Environmental Working Group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and Earthjustice.
“It’s unbelievable that food companies, not the FDA, decide whether 99% of new chemicals used in food are safe and that it’s been decades since the FDA evaluated the safety of many chemicals used in the foods we eat every day,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the EWG. “The proposed reforms in the Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act of 2022 are desperately needed to fix FDA’s oversight of food chemicals and keep consumers safe.”