Not Cool F.D.A.

It’s understandable that when you dig into a pint of ice cream or crunch into a sour pickle, you assume that what you’re eating is essentially safe. Sure, we can quibble about the overall health aspects of the food, but you shouldn’t need to worry that your ice cream has additives that are proven to cause you cancer. After all, that’s what the FDA regulates, right?

Unfortunately, you’re wrong. The FDA is severely slacking on the job, and now there’s a pretty important petition asking them to get back on it.

The Hateful Eight

Since 1958, under the Delaney Clause, federal law has mandated that the FDA cannot allow food to be considered “safe” if it’s shown to cause cancer when ingested by either humans or animals. 

The current petition, created by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, and a group of other agencies, asks the FDA to ban eight synthetic flavorings that are proven, by authorized and respected government agencies, to cause cancer in lab animals, and yet, for some reason, are currently approved as safe for use by the FDA.

These eight chemicals are;
    •    Benzophenone (also known as diphenylketone)
    •    Ethyl acrylate
    •    Eugenyl methyl ether (also known as 4-allylveratrole or  methyl eugenol)
    •    Myrcene (also known as 7-methyl-3-methylene-1, 6-octadiene)
    •    Pulegone (also known as p-menth-4(8)-en-3-one)
    •    Pyridine
    •    Styrene
    •    Trans, trans-2, 4-hexadienal.

Chances are, you’ve eaten them. These babies can be found in FDA approved commercial ice creams, baked goods, candy, 

pickles, jam, gum, and beverages, and as they fall under the heading “synthetic flavorings,” they don’t even show up on the ingredients list.

Outdated And Dangerous

These eight chemicals were approved for use in food over fifty years ago, before any studies had been done on their health effects. Since then, the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program and the World Health Organization have confirmed that they cause cancer in animals and could be carcinogenic to humans.

“Consumers are vulnerable, the government isn’t doing its job and the food industry is calling the shots,” says Erik Olson, director of the Health Program for the NRDC. “The FDA should be doing much more to ensure our food is safe, and that should start with obeying the law by banning these synthetic flavorings known to cause cancer in animals, rather than just continuing to let the food industry have its way.”

If the issue feels too obvious, and you’re wondering what’s the catch, there isn’t one. It is impossible to know why the FDA has not yet banned these chemicals. It is likely a combination of wealthy and powerful food lobbyists, and laziness, but it really doesn’t matter. The FDA needs to get off their butts and do the job they are legally obligated to do. 

What You Can Do

The Environmental Agencies petition is a closed petition, so we as the public cannot sign it. However, we have created an open petition at We the People, the White House’s platform for citizen petitions, asking President Obama to order the FDA to ban these chemicals. The deadline to sign is March 2nd, 2016, and if it gets more than 100,000 signatures, the White House will officially review and respond. So get on it, and sign, to make the FDA get on it. It’s about time.