The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) recently launched its online Flavor Ingredient Library, a free resource for researchers, the media, and consumers seeking information on substances that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as flavor ingredients. The library includes all such flavor ingredients, links to related publications, access to safety assessment information, and additional information about the group’s GRAS program.

Shave ice flavorings“The library delivers comprehensive access to information on the safety of ingredients used to create the flavors we all enjoy,” said John Cox, the industry group’s executive director. “It builds on FEMA’s long history of transparency around flavor ingredient safety issues – the library provides easier access to information researchers, media and consumers are looking for.”

While the information in the Flavor Ingredient Library has already been publicly available through various government websites, scholarly journals and other sources, the library now provides all the information in one easily accessible place, the group noted, adding that each ingredient’s safety has been reviewed by FEMA’s expert panel, which is composed of academic researchers and medical doctors.

The GRAS process, overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), involves a manufacturer petitioning the agency for GRAS status for use of a particular food substance. In 1997, FDA wanted to clarify the criteria for exempting the use of a substance from premarket approval because such use is GRAS and to replace the current GRAS process with a notification procedure in which anyone may notify FDA that the particular use of a substance is GRAS.

The Center for Food Safety then sued FDA to overturn this proposal and go back to the previous process in which a manufacturer would have to formally petition the agency to have a new substance approved as GRAS based on published studies.

A February 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that FDA tighten up its oversight of the GRAS approval process in a number of different ways because “FDA is not systematically ensuring the continued safety of current GRAS substances,” GAO stated.

“FDA’s oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new GRAS determinations,” the GAO report stated. “FDA only reviews those GRAS determinations that companies submit to the agency’s voluntary notification program — the agency generally does not have information about other GRAS determinations companies have made because companies are not required to inform FDA of them.”

FEMA, founded in 1909, has members among flavor manufacturers, flavor users, flavor ingredient suppliers and those with an interest in the U.S. flavor industry. It is based in Washington, D.C.

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