The FDA is officially banning the use of seven artificial food additives after several food safety experts provided research showing that the additives caused cancer in two different species of lab animals. Though one of the additives had already been removed from the FDA’s approved list, all seven of them are normally listed as “artificial flavors.”
More specifically the FDA refers to the now banned additives as benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. They’re typically used to replicate citrus, mint, and cinnamon flavors in food.
What may be worse is the wide array of foods that the additives are used in. Laura MacCleery, a policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, noted that they can typically be found in ice cream, gum, soda, and mass-produced pastries. The path the ban has been a bit arduous as well. The FDA first received complaints about these additives as early as 2016. It wasn’t until health advocacy groups banded together and sued the FDA for a response that the agency addressed their concerns.
It’s the FDA’s general policy to ban any additive that is found to have a link with cancer from being included in food. Still, people who have consumed them up until this point are likely going to be fine. An official statement from the FDA, the flavorings are used “in very small amounts,” at least when they’re used in the US. The agency concluded that they don’t actually “pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use.” Still, it is fair to note that many of the additives in question have been approved since the 1960’s. How years of exposure like that would affect a person isn’t totally clear. Regardless, given that the additives don’t pose a massive health risk right now, manufacturers will have two years to come up with and implement replacements.