Five food and consumer advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), challenging the agency’s rule that permits food manufacturers to determine what additives can be added to their processed foods.

The five groups—the Center for Food Safety, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Working Group—are alleging that the government is allowing food companies themselves to determine what chemicals and additives are safe, which they believe is illegal.

FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) rule, according to the groups bringing forth the lawsuit, is in direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). That law, established in 1938, requires FDA to substantiate the safety of all chemicals and substances prior to being added to food. In its finalized version, the GRAS rule only encourages food companies to inform FDA of GRAS findings, but it is not a requirement.

By filing the lawsuit, the Center for Food Safety and other concerned groups hope to have the court dismiss the GRAS rule and instead force FDA to comply with FDCA. 

More on GRAS:
The Final GRAS Regulation: Putting the Voluntary Notification Procedure in Place
FDA Rules on GRAS Ingredients

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