Six artificial flavorings that are known to cause cancer in animals have been “delisted” by federal regulators and can no longer be used by food manufacturers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Oct. 5 announcement may raise some eyebrows. How long have these carcinogenic artificial flavorings been used by food manufacturers? Why were the additives FDA-approved in the first place? How widespread was their use before the FDA banned them?
The FDA’s announcement fails to answer these questions, but the agency has said its decision to delist the artificial flavorings was prompted by scientific data presented in one of two petitions. The FDA maintains that although the intended uses of the artificial flavorings pose no public health risk, a provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act known as the “Delaney Clause” bars the FDA from approving food ingredients found to “induce cancer in humans or animals at any dose.”
The six artificial flavorings the FDA has banned are synthetically derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The FDA also delisted a seventh artificial flavoring because it is no longer used by the food industry.
If none of these artificial flavorings sounds familiar, it’s because the FDA allowed the food industry to list them in the ingredients simply as “artificial flavors,” according to NPR.
The FDA said the organizations that petitioned to have the artificial flavorings banned were the Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers Union, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Improving Kids’ Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Dr. James Huff.
According to The Takeout, the FDA’s moved to delist the artificial flavorings could be seen as part of a broader trend away from food ingredients whose names can’t be pronounced. In January, Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) announced it is phasing out all artificial colorings this year. Similarly, McDonald’s has pledged to stop using artificial flavorings and colorings in its classic burgers.