Your A** is GRAS!

by Brooke on August 3, 2010

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Don’t worry –  this is not an “avoid this substance or you will get cancer” post!  I just wanted to get your attention! 

The acronym “GRAS” stands for Generally Recognized As Safe.  According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, “any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive” and must be reviewed and approved by the FDA prior to use, except substances that are GRAS.  If a substance is deemed GRAS it means that there is “common knowledge about the safety of the substance for its intended use.” 

An example of a substance that is on the GRAS list is Rebaudioside A, which is a newer sweetener on the market that has been purified from the leaves of the Stevia plant.  Rebaudioside A made the GRAS list after numerous scientific procedures concluded that it is an acceptable general-purpose sweetener for use in most foods, except meat and poultry products.  Note:  I am not pushing this sweetener on anyone, just thought it was a good example! Here is the list of GRAS substances.   

It is interesting how many people are saying, “If you can’t pronounce a word or know what a word is on the ingredients list don’t eat it.”  But the truth is, we are not food scientists and will not recognize every substance and understand how it is used.  It is important to know that every substance that is GRAS has to be shown to be safe.  The FDA defines safe, “as a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under its intended conditions of use.” 

Don’t panic when you see a substance on the ingredients list you are not familiar with it might be Generally Recognized As Safe and if you ever have any questions about ingredients you can always consult your dietitian!

Image courtesy of jcolman’s photostream .

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