Data Gaps in Toxicity Testing of Chemicals allowed in Food in the United States

Why Are Industrial Chemicals in Food Not Safety Tested?

Data gaps in toxicity testing of chemicals allowed in food in the United States
Why are industrial chemicals in processed foods not safety tested?

For the first time, a searchable list of chemical additives allowed in human food by the FDA has been developed and made publicly available with cross-references to supporting toxicology studies.

In practice, almost 80% of chemical additives directly—intentionally—added to food lack the relevant information needed to estimate the amount that consumers can safely eat in FDA’s own database and 93% lack reproductive or developmental toxicity data, although FDA requires feeding toxicology data for these chemicals.

Of the totality of FDA-regulated additives, both directly and indirectly allowed in food, almost two-thirds don’t have publicly available feeding data.

In the absence of toxicology data on the majority of chemicals added to food, the scientific basis for determinations of safety to humans may be questioned.

Read Why Are Industrial Chemicals in Food Not Safety Tested? by Jennifer Sass, 16 August 2013.

Abstract

In the United States, chemical additives cannot be used in food without an affirmative determination that their use is safe by FDA or additive manufacturer. Feeding toxicology studies designed to estimate the amount of a chemical additive that can be eaten safely provide the most relevant information. We analyze how many chemical additives allowed in human food have feeding toxicology studies in three toxicological information sources including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) database. Less than 38% of FDA-regulated additives have a published feeding study. For chemicals directly added to food, 21.6% have feeding studies necessary to estimate a safe level of exposure and 6.7% have reproductive or developmental toxicity data in FDA’s database. A program is needed to fill these significant knowledge gaps by using in vitro and in silico methods complemented with targeted in vivo studies to ensure public health is protected.

Sources: Data gaps in toxicity testing of chemicals allowed in food in the United States, ScienceDirect, December 2013.

Have your say ! Share your views