GMA Wants to 'Modernize' GRAS, Ingredient Safety

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Nov 02, 2014

The Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), food processors' main industry association, has begun a five-part initiative that will advance the procedures used to assess the safety of ingredients used in food products, particularly the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) determination.

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products," said Leon Bruner, GMA's chief science officer. "In the spirit of that ongoing commitment, we are launching a modernization initiative that will improve the process and increase transparency for making Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) determinations of ingredients added to food."

This five-part initiative to help modernize the process for making GRAS determinations of food ingredients will include:

  • GMA will take the lead in defining a standard that will provide clear guidance on how to conduct transparent, state of the art ingredient safety assessments. These advanced procedures will be documented in a Publicly Available Standard (PAS) for GRAS determinations. The PAS will be a science-based framework that specifies a rigorous and transparent ingredient safety assessment process. The procedures included in the PAS will ensure GRAS assessments meet the regulatory requirements of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The PAS will be developed by an independent body of technical experts in an open public process that includes interested stakeholders. The PAS will be suitable for accreditation using an independent official accreditation body.
  •  The association is establishing a program to ensure the FDA has increased visibility to the ingredients that are assessed as GRAS by members of the food industry. That will be made possible through the establishment of a GMA-sponsored database that will list information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry. Information in this database will be made available to FDA and other stakeholders to provide increased visibility of ingredients used in the food supply that have been assessed for safety using the procedures defined in the PAS on GRAS assessment procedures.
  • GMA will expand its curriculum of GRAS education and training programs in order to further increase the capability of scientists who assess the GRAS status of ingredients used by the consumer packaged goods industry. The association's educational programs provide GMA members and other interested stakeholders an understanding of the scientific procedures that need to be followed in order to complete a robust and transparent safety assessment. They also provide training on requirements defined in GRAS regulations so new ingredients are fully compliant with U.S. food additive law and regulations.
  • GMA has taken the lead in establishing the Center for Research and Ingredient Safety (CRIS) at Michigan State University, launched in the spring of 2014. CRIS will serve as an independent academic center of expertise on the safety of ingredients used in foods and consumer products. Its expertise on ingredient safety and independent analysis will be available to all interested stakeholders.
  • GMA members committed to drive improvement in the GRAS assessment process by adopting a code of practice at the asssociation's board of directors meeting in August. The code outlines the commitments members have made to conduct assessments according to the procedures defined in the PAS, to maintain the database with up-to-date information and to ensure their employees are fully trained on GRAS procedures.

    GMA will execute a communications outreach program to inform stakeholders and consumers of the steps being taken by industry to increase the integrity of procedures used to assess ingredient safety.

    See more at