The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a federal agency that is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. As such, they are entrusted with safeguarding the health of Americans by regulating our food and drugs, among other things. The FDA has an enormous amount of power and influence in our country and with that comes responsibility. Many people proudly equate the FDA to being our country's "fourth" branch of power, while others equate it to being the "Fraud and Death Administration."
The FDA has a history of approving certain foods and drugs that are very beneficial and many that are very questionable, to say the least. One of the more recent approvals, completed with minimal publicity, was that of genetically modified Salmon. Many believe this approval to be premature at best, in light of the incomplete testing performed to insure human and ecological safety in the raising and consumption of GM Salmon.
Another FDA approval that has raised many eyebrows, is that of allowing the use of carrageenan as an ingredient in conventional ice cream. The safety of this ingredient for human consumption has been questioned, in that it is the same ingredient contained in the chemical spray used to de-ice planes.
Perhaps one the most puzzling approvals by the FDA , is that of Castoreum. Castoreum has been approved for our food use and is commonly found in processed foods labeled only as a "natural flavoring". If you are wondering just what that "natural flavoring" is, Castoreum is the juice from a Beaver's anal glands. Even if Castoreum is completely safe for human consumption, most people would not choose to knowingly ingest the juice from a Beaver's anal glands.
This is a prime example of why we need to change the specificity requirements in our food label laws. Consumers have the right to know not only what they are paying for, but the right to know what they are putting in their bodies. If the FDA, in its infinite wisdom, is going to allow our food to contain genetically modified organisms (GMO'S), Castoreum and other "natural flavorings", then at the very least we need full disclosure label laws. Until that happens, we must be mindful of the adage proclaiming that "you are what you eat."
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto