Senate Bill to Revise and Reassess GRAS Program
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
  • On May 27, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), alongside Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)., introduced the Ensuring Safe and Toxic-Free Foods Act, which is described as “comprehensive legislation that ensures the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fulfills its responsibility to promote the health and well-being of American families by directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen the Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Rule, which exempts companies from seeking pre-market approval for food chemicals.” A summary of the legislation is available here.

  • The legislation would prohibit manufacturers from independently designating substances as GRAS (or manufacturing or selling food containing those substances) without supplying notice and supporting information to the Secretary of HHS. Substances that are carcinogenic or that have evidence of reproductive or developmental toxicity would be prohibited from receiving a GRAS designation. Further, the legislation would require that a GRAS Notice and all supporting information be publicly available online and subject to a 90-day review period.

  • The legislation would also direct the Secretary to create an Office of Food Chemical Safety Reassessment within FDA’s CFSAN. The new office would be responsible for reassessing the safety of existing food additives, food contact substances, color additives, and substances that had already received GRAS status. The office would be required to reassess at least 10 substances (or class of substances) once every three years. As included in the bill, the first 10 substances to be reviewed would be:

    • Perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances

    • Ortho-phthalates

    • The class of bisphenols

    • Titanium dioxide

    • Potassium bromate

    • Perchlorate

    • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

    • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

    • Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

    • Propyl paraben

  • With regard to the legislation, Senator Markey has said “The FDA too often falls short on their responsibility to promote food safety, highlighted recently by the baby formula crisis where FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy did not learn about the whistleblower complaint for four months. It is long past time we revise existing food safety measures and close the loophole allowing manufacturers to self-regulate what new substances can enter our food supply.”


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