Beyond the GRAS Lists

Among all food additives used, it is generally accepted that flavoring materials form a class by themselves. This class outnumbers by far all other food additives combined. The number alone makes individual testing of all flavoring materials unrealistic.

Flavoring substances have the following characteristics that make a classical toxicological approach to their individual safety evaluation not only impossible, but clearly of a very low priority from the viewpoint of public health:

—the levels at which flavoring materials occur, or are added, are in the ppm range. Their flavor impact limits the risk of an accidental overdose, as the food would become unpalatable. —most flavoring materials occur widely in traditional foods; they are not “new.” —the chemical structure of flavoring materials is generally of the type that may be expected to occur in foods as a result of biogenetic processes or traditional food processing.  —controlling the direct food additive use of most of these flavorings, regardless of results of toxicity testing, would have little impact on human health since similar control over the consumption of foods in which they occur naturally is not feasible.

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