Quantcast

FDA Bans 7 Cancer-Causing Food Additives Found in Popular Foods

Food
Astrakan Images / Cultura / Getty Images

Under pressure from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other environmental and public health groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned seven substances used in artificial flavors that have been linked to cancer in animals.


"Chemicals that could cause cancer should never have been allowed in our food in the first place, especially not hiding behind the confusing label of 'artificial flavors,'" said Melanie Benesh, EWG's legislative attorney. "The FDA finally did the right thing by taking this important step to better protect consumers."

These food additives are most commonly used to enhance the flavor of baked goods, ice cream, candy, chewing gum and beverages. The newly banned flavors are benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, pyridine and styrene.

"Consumers will never know which foods were made with these chemicals, since manufacturers have been allowed to hide these ingredients behind the vague term 'flavor,'" said Dawn Undurraga, EWG's nutritionist. "This is a positive step forward, but the FDA should empower consumers to make their own fully informed decisions by requiring full ingredient disclosure."

The ban on styrene was also supported by a petition from the food industry. But the FDA acted on the other six after public interest groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit petitioning the FDA to make a final decision whether to prohibit the seven cancer-causing artificial chemicals from use in food.

Earthjustice represented the petitioners, including Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Manufacturers that use these food additives will have two years to comply with the new rules.

To learn more about the chemicals used in processed foods, please visit EWG's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives. Consumers looking for healthier options can also visit EWG's Food Scores database or download EWG's Healthy Living App, which provides ratings for more than 120,000 food and personal care products.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

jenifoto / iStock / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many people consider granola bars a convenient and healthy snack and enjoy their flavor and versatility.

Read More Show Less
A common green darners (Anax junius). Judy Gallagher / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

It's that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
fstop123 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.

To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.

Read More Show Less
JPM / Getty Images

Gluten is the collective name for a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.

Read More Show Less
Denali national park. Domen Jakus / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Stephanie Gagnon

Happy National Parks Week! This year, between April 20 and 28, escape to the beautiful national parks — either in person or in your imagination — and celebrate the amazing wildlife that calls these spaces home.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sesame, three months old, at Seal Rescue Irleand. Screenshot / Seal Rescue Ireland Instagram

On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.

Read More Show Less
Beer packs of Guinness will now come in a cardboard box. Diageo

By Jordan Davidson

Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.

Read More Show Less