FDA (Finally) Bans Artificial Flavors Found In Ice Cream and Candy
In response to concerns by health advocacy groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned seven synthetic flavorings used in ice cream, baked goods, candy, beverages and chewing gum.
The move was taken because of evidence proving the additives cause cancer in animals. Food manufacturers have two years to find suitable replacements and change the formula of their products.
The banned synthetic flavorings include ethyl acrylate, benzophenone, pyridine, pulegone, methyl eugenol and myrcene. On a food product label, these are listed as “artificial flavors” rather than their actual names. They are typically used to simulate the flavor of citrus, cinnamon and mint.
A seventh one called styreme was also removed from the list of approved additives because the food industry no longer uses it. In 2011, the U.S. National Toxicology Program classified it as a “reasonably anticipated” carcinogen.
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Advocacy Groups Petitioned FDA
In 2015, an array of health and environmental advocacy groups that included the Center for Food Safety, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban the synthetic flavors. The petition contained scientific evidence that links them to cancer in animals. According to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s Delaney Clause, which become law in 1958, the FDA must prohibit the use of a substance found to cause cancer in humans or animals at any dose.
FDA Announced Ban
On October 5, 2018, the FDA announced the ban. “The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposures and low risk,” the agency said in a statement.
“While the FDA’s recent exposure assessment of these substances does not indicate that they pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use, the petitioners provided evidence that these substances caused cancer in animals who were exposed to much higher doses.”
After the FDA announcement, Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director at Environmental Defense Fund, one of the petitioners, issued a statement.
“This is an important win for American families, who were consuming these cancer-causing “flavors” without even knowing it … Now it’s time for FDA to rule on overdue petitions including the use of toxic ortho-phthalates in food manufacturing and packaging, cancer-causing perchlorate in dry food plastic packaging, and lead acetate in hair dyes like Grecian Formula,” he said.
Avoid Food Additives
Natural health experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola believe artificial flavors, artificial colors and a host of other food additives are some of the culprits that underlie rising rates of disease. Organics reports that adverse health effects associated with artificial flavors may include maladies such as the following: dizziness, cancer, seizures, brain tumors, confusion, DNA damage, high blood pressure, fatigue and kidney problems.
Processed foods are loaded with additives, most of which haven’t undergone testing to prove their safety. Moreover, the word “natural” on a label shouldn’t necessarily be trusted, as it isn’t closely monitored in the food industry. Therefore, read the list of ingredients on product labels, and avoid those you don’t recognize. If an ingredient sounds more like something made in a laboratory rather than a spice or food from a kitchen cabinet, opt for a more wholesome product. Your best bet is to cook most of your meals at home from scratch.