Food safety is critical to everyone. The consumption of products containing chemicals or contaminants can result in minor health issues like digestive disturbances or major conditions that can precipitate long-term, perhaps life-threatening medical problems.
Fortunately, food safety is an issue that has and continues to garner significant attention from our elected officials. The following brief article discusses the epidemic of chemicals in food products, a piece of federal legislation known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA), as well as recent revisions made to this existing law designed to make the products we eat and drink safer and healthier.
Toxic Chemicals In Food. Unfortunately, common preservatives and food additives like palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and coloring, sodium nitrates and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) are among the ingredients included in the vast majority of all frozen or canned food, which some nutrition and health experts believe accounts for as much as a staggering 60 percent of the dietary intake of many Americans. In addition, pesticides can often be found on supposedly healthy edibles such as fruits and vegetables, flame retardants are contained in meat products like beef and chicken and mercury is found in many types of fish. Not even natural water is immune to this concern. Plastic bottles are thought to contain BPAs, which are thought to potentially contribute to many dangerous ailments, most notably cancer.
Regulation on Toxic Food Chemicals. The presence of chemicals and other potentially harmful substances in the nation’s food supply is not a new problem faced by society. The federal government has been attempting to address this major health concern dating back to 1976 when Congress created and enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This legislation acknowledged that many chemicals placed in food posed a significant health risk to American citizens. This led to establishing steps towards responsible growing, processing and preserving food and other products we use in an effort to limit and eliminate this problem.
The original version of the TSCA set out to accomplish several different tasks. Among the principal issues to be tackled was how to produce, import, utilize and get rid of substances such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon and lead-based paint products. The Act also bestowed appropriate authorities the power to require entities who used these substances in the production of food or any other product people could consume or be exposed to would be required to disclose that the aforementioned chemicals are contained in the goods they produce, as well as reveal the possible health risks associated with the continued consumption and/or exposure to these products. The legislation also set forth regulations regarding how potentially harmful substances would be tested, used, exported, imported and reported; as well as established compliance and monitoring guidelines.
The New and Improved TSCA. On June 22, 2016, former President Barack Obama signed the Frank. R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety For The 21st Century Act into law. This legislation offers an amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act and is considered to be the United States’ chief law in reference to the management of potentially harmful chemicals.
Arguably, the biggest improvement brought about by this new legislation is that chemical producers and goods manufacturers will be mandated to test potentially harmful chemicals prior to these substances inclusion in products that are intended to be sold to the public. In addition, this law will require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to carefully examine the effects of chemicals that can linger in the environment for extended periods, as well as that of substances that can accumulate in the human body for lengthy intervals before producing illness. The Act also mandates the EPA exercise extreme caution when studying the safety of chemicals stored near water supplies.
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Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve