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The FDA Doesn't Know What's In Your Food -- And Neither Do You

by Michael Higham, published
A recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found that there are approximately 1,000 ingredients that companies have added to their foods over the years that were not first reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, a government agency that is responsible for regulating 80 percent of the nation's food supply. The investigation found that not only does the FDA not know anything about these ingredients, but consumers don't know the potential risks, either.

How is it possible that companies can add flavors, preservatives, and other ingredients without regulators first reviewing them for immediate or long-term health effects or risks? It all has to do with a federal loophole that essentially allows the food industry to regulate itself.

In 2008, Australian-based food manufacturer, George Weston Goods, wanted U.S. regulators to approve ingredients made from lupin, a peanut-related legume from the same plant family, that would be put in breads, pastries, cereals, and other products sold in the United States. The FDA, however, refused fearing it could "trigger 'life-threatening reactions' in peanut allergic customers," according to CPI.

The FDA said merely listing lupin on ingredient labels would not be enough warning. The ingredients, the regulators said, “failed to meet the standards for general recognition of safety,” according to documents obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council through a Freedom of Information Act request." - Center for Public Integrity - Center for Public Integrity

Yet, in any supermarket in America, consumers can find food products with lupin protein, lupin flour, and lupin fiber listed as an ingredient without knowing exactly what lupin is. This is because American food manufacturers can label their own ingredients as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) and don't have to inform the FDA about these GRAS ingredients -- which are not considered food additives -- unless they want to.

Watch this video:

Read the full video transcript here and the CPI's report here.

Photo Credit: Ambrophoto /

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