Get Risky Chemicals Out of Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and current chemical-safety laws don't protect people from risky chemicals and additives, mercury, and other contaminants in food. NRDC is pushing for reforms that will help ensure that food-safety decisions are based on the latest science as well as concern for human health.

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Chemical-safety assessments at the FDA are spotty, weakly enforced, and often dependent on outdated research. They have allowed hormone-disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol A, or BPA, to be approved as food additives, while thousands of other chemicals in our food supply are not adequately tested. NRDC is putting increased pressure on the FDA to protect public health by making its decisions more transparent and scientifically credible, and by gaining better control over BPA and other harmful chemicals in food, beverages, and packaging. When the agency delays important health decisions, we take legal action.

At the same time, the FDA's authority is undermined by a giant loophole in food-safety designation known as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe." Dating back to the Eisenhower years, the GRAS list was intended to allow food additives like olive oil to bypass FDA review. Today, it is estimated that more than 3,000 chemical food additives have entered the system through this loophole. NRDC analysis of industry and government records brought the magnitude of this problem to public attention. We are now urging Congress to close the loophole and stop the secret flow of untested chemicals into our food supply.

When federal agencies aren't protecting public health, NRDC steps in to provide consumers with the information they need. Our resources help people make smart decisions about what they eat and drink in order to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, as well as provide an avenue for citizens to speak out when agencies like the FDA fail to do their jobs.

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