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Series Conclusion: Understanding U.S. Food Safety Policies

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Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by Max

The persistence of these substancoes in U.S. foods can be attributed to several factors, including industry influence, regulatory approaches, economic considerations, and the interpretation of scientific evidence.
Industry Influence and Economic Factors The food industry in the U.S. has significant influence over food policies and regulations. This influence is often exercised through lobbying to shape legislation favoring industry interests (Nestle, 2013). One of the industry’s key arguments is the economic benefit of using these additives. They argue that these substances help to produce food more efficiently and cheaply, which can help keep prices down for consumers.

Different Regulatory Approaches The U.S. and the EU have fundamentally different approaches to food safety regulation. The EU tends to operate under the “precautionary principle,” which suggests that if an ingredient is potentially harmful, it should be restricted or banned until its safety can be confirmed (European Commission, 2000).
In contrast, the U.S. tends to require definitive proof of harm before banning or restricting an ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) often classifies food additives as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) until proven otherwise (U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2018).

Interpreting Scientific Evidence, The interpretation of scientific research can also play a significant role. There is often debate around what constitutes “definitive proof,” Studies can be interpreted differently depending on who is looking at the data. Even when studies suggest potential harm, the results can be downplayed or disputed if the evidence is not deemed strong enough.

In the case of all the substances we have discussed, the FDA maintains that they are safe based on the currently available scientific evidence (U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2018). However, the ongoing research and the differing views of other regulatory bodies like the EU suggest that these issues still need to be settled.
This raises questions about balancing the need for affordable, convenient food with the desire to protect public health. How do you think we should approach this issue?

Conclusion: Charting a Path Towards Improved Food Safety

The discrepancies between U.S. and EU food safety regulations raise important questions about our food safety and public health approach. Here are a few steps that could help to bridge this gap:
Policy Changes. Firstly, there is a need for policy changes that prioritize public health over economic interests. Implementing more precautionary principles, like those in the EU, could be one such step. This could mean banning or restricting potentially harmful ingredients, even if the evidence is not definitive (Nestle, 2013).

Greater Transparency in Labeling, Improved food labeling could also play a crucial role. Providing clear, accessible information about the ingredients in our food would empower consumers to make informed choices. For instance, specific labeling for phosphate additives, as called for in the EU, could also be introduced in the U.S. (European Food Safety Authority [EFSA], 2019).

Increased Consumer Awareness. Finally, increased consumer awareness is vital. The more we know about what goes into our food, the better equipped we are to make healthy choices. This can be facilitated through education initiatives, consumer advocacy, and access to clear and accurate information.

As consumers, we can also play a role by staying informed and making conscious choices about our food. By doing so, we can exercise our power in the marketplace to demand safer, healthier food options.
Ultimately, the goal is a food system that supports the health and well-being of all its consumers. This may be a complex and challenging task, but it is a goal worth striving for. What steps could be taken to improve food safety in your country?


  • Nestle, M. (2013). Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. University of California Press.
  • European Commission. (2000). Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle. Brussels: European Commission.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2018). Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). Washington, D.C.: FDA.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2018). Food Additives & Ingredients. Washington, D.C.: FDA.
  • Nestle, M. (2013). Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. University of California Press.
  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). (2019). Re-Evaluation of Phosphoric Acid–Phosphates – Di-, Tri- and Polyphosphates (E 338–341, E 343, E 450–452) as Food Additives and the Safety of Proposed Extension of Use. EFSA Journal, 17(6), 5714

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