How many food chemicals and additives do you think are being put into the American food supply? A few hundred? Even more? The correct answer is “way more.” This link reports that “thousands of chemicals” are being put into Americans’ food supplies and the food manufacturers want to assure us that all of them are safe. Amazingly, an estimate by the Pew Charitable Trust “estimates that about 10,000 additives are allowed in foods.” 10,000? Wow!
But surely, you might be thinking, the FDA has rigorously tested all of them to make sure they are safe, right? Wrong! The link reveals that the chemicals inserted into the US food supply are generally not tested at all by the FDA! The link reports that there is a system called GRAS (Generally Accepted as Safe) which allows the food manufacturers (and obviously the chemical companies that are producing all those chemicals and additives) to “bypass approval by the FDA.” The GRAS system is a system whereby the food industry uses “existing science and their own research (emphasis added) to assure the FDA that every thing is fine with those thousands of all kinds of additives being added to the US food supply. I’m sure every industry group would like to certify to the government that it has decided for itself that its products are safe so the government would also give them a “pass” on any inspection as well for their products. In other words, the food industry uses “its own research” to tell the government that everything is OK so they can bypass the FDA and put thousands of chemicals/additives of all sorts into food products without the FDA inspecting anything!
Does that sound OK to you? It doesn’t to me. I was very surprised to learn in this link that vast numbers of chemicals and food additives are being put into our food supply without any government testing at all.
One expert is cited as saying the lack of meaningful government inspection and certification of chemicals and food additives introduced into the US food supply “shows the ‘dysfunction’ of a system in which the FDA lacks safety data on all the ingredients in the nation’s food supply.” The link reports the FDA is under pressure to revise this GRAS system which “gives too much freedom to the food manufacturers.” I think that point is obvious.
Please read the link to learn just how little government inspection exists regarding the chemicals and additives put in your food. I’d like all of the chemicals and additives put into my food to be safety-inspected and certified by an independent government agency before it gets put into my food. I’ll bet most readers would have the same preference.
This article begs another question: How hard would it be for terrorists to gain employment in the US food industry and smuggle harmful or lethal chemicals into food manufacturing plants and then place those poisons into the food supply without anyone noticing? Do all food industry and chemical industry workers get a daily inspection before they enter their places of employment to make sure they don’t have a vial of botulism, cyanide or something else that they could easily pull out of their pocket later and pour into massive food preparation vats or into those un-inspected reservoirs of food chemicals and additives that will be added to food assembly lines? The US food supply is surprisingly unregulated and un-inspected in terms of the chemicals and additives placed in our foods. This seems to me to be a huge hole in our national security. A terrorist could poison huge masses of people simply by gaining employment in the food manufacturing industry and then putting poisons in the food when no one is looking. Meanwhile, the US government thinks it is “fighting terrorism” by having millions of people take off their shoes and belts at airports. Sigh.
Hello, Congress? Did you know this was happening?