According to Reuters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under pressure to reexamine its rules for the safety of additives. It has been more than half a century since U.S. regulations governing food additives were last revised. In that time, the number of chemicals in the food supply has risen from fewer than 2,000 to an estimated 10,000, many of which are never reviewed by the FDA because companies and their advisers have declared them to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).
“Our system really puts the onus on us to prove harm,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “It’s perhaps a time to look at what the legal framework looks like and what opportunities there are now to ask and answer questions in new ways because of advances in science and technology.”
Caffeine was declared decades ago to be a GRAS product in cola-type beverages. Yet the FDA has not challenged companies to prove the safety of caffeine in other products or other beverages - including those whose levels exceed the 71 mg per 12 oz typically contained in soda. One 8.4-oz can of Red Bull Energy Drink contains 80 mg of caffeine, while 12-oz of Red Bull contain 114 mg of caffeine.