The following observations should put into perspective the exposure of consumers to flavoring substances. This may help us to establish a reasonable priority for the safety evaluation of the unmanageably large number of flavoring substances occurring in food and used by the flavor industry.
Flavoring substances in the U.S. are exempt from the food additives regulations if they are Generally Recognized as Safe (21 CFR 170.30). In addition to having been used in food prior to 1958, through experience based on common use in food, a substance may be considered GRAS based on safety evaluation by experts qualified by scientific training and experience, using scientific procedures. Even though, strictly speaking, the resulting FEMA GRAS lists are not limitative in the sense that they exclude all other flavoring materials, they at least establish an inventory of ingredients proposed for use in flavorings by the U.S. flavor manufacturers and evaluated for safety by experts.
In addition to information about their toxicological and pharmacological properties, and their metabolic pathway in humans, a very important factor in the safety evaluation of flavoring substances is the quantity to which the consumer is exposed.