Oct. 5, 2018 — The FDA has banned the use of seven synthetic substances used to flavor or enhance flavor in baked goods, ice cream, candy, beverages, and chewing gum.
Environmental and health advocacy groups sent data to the agency that showed that 6 of the substances cause cancer in lab animals, the FDA says, and the seventh flavor is being removed from approved additives as it is no longer used by industry.
On a label, the substances are listed as ”artificial flavors,” rather than their specific names, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the organizations that petitioned to get the flavors outlawed. The substances are typically added to simulate mint, cinnamon, and citrus.
The 6 are:
- Ethyl acrylate
- Eugenyl methyl ether
The FDA also removed its approval for styrene, which has been abandoned by industry, the agency says.
In 2015, several organizations petitioned the FDA to ban the substances, pointing to data showing they cause cancer in lab animals. Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s Delaney Clause, enacted in 1958, the FDA cannot allow the legal use of any food additive found to induce cancer in humans or animals at any dose.
In its statement announcing the decision on Oct. 5, the FDA notes that its ”rigorous scientific analysis has determined that they do not pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use. The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposure and low risk.”
But, the agency says, the groups calling for the ban proved the “substances caused cancer in animals who were exposed to much higher doses. As such, the FDA is only revoking the listing of these six synthetic flavorings as a matter of law.”
The decision, the FDA says, does not affect the legal status of foods that contain the natural counterparts of the substances used to flavor foods and drink.