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CFS Statement on FDA Removing Seven Carcinogenic Flavorings from Its Approved Food Additives List

October 10, 2018
Center for Food Safety

CFS Statement on FDA Removing Seven Carcinogenic Flavorings from Its Approved Food Additives List

American food safety standards just got safer, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to a 2016 Center for Food Safety (CFS) petition on Friday (October 5, 2018) by removing seven artificial flavorings from its approved food additives list. The 2016 petition, filed by CFS and eight other non-profit advocacy organizations, cited test results from the National Toxicology Program, which found that the artificial flavorings cause cancer.

"It was high time FDA finally did its job and removed these carcinogenic flavorings off the approved food additives list," said Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst of CFS. "While we wish that the agency would have removed these harmful additives as soon as the National Toxicology Program revealed that the flavorings cause cancer, when it comes to carcinogenic chemicals, removing their approvals late is better than never."

Although the seven chemicals are used in a wide variety of processed foods, most consumers aren't very familiar with the names of the artificial flavorings because, under current food labeling rules, they would all appear as "artificial flavors" on ingredient lists. But even if most consumers don't know artificial chemicals like ethyl acrylate and myrcene by name, they likely would recognize the taste of the flavors themselves which are used to enhance the flavor of everything from baked goods to beer to butterscotch candy.

FDA has given the food industry two years to reformulate food products without six of the seven chemicals. The seventh flavoring, styrene, was the subject of a separate petition and is also no longer approved for use in food. While waiting for FDA to act on this 2016 petition, CFS has worked with food companies to voluntarily remove harmful chemicals from their products, like Mars, Inc., which committed to remove synthetic food dyes as well as titanium dioxide from its human food products at CFS' request.

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