Food companies repeatedly turn to a handful of scientists to determine whether new food additives can be deemed “generally recognized as safe,” and avoid a rigorous pre-market government safety review.
Consumers regularly eat foods with added flavors, preservatives and other ingredients that are secretly added by companies and not reviewed for safety by regulators.
Several scientists who routinely review food ingredients for their safety did similar work for Big Tobacco.
Ten scientists have been paid to serve on three-quarters of the 379 expert panels convened to review the safety of food ingredients over the past 17 years.
Critics say they worry that scientists who depend on the food industry for income may be less likely to contest the safety of ingredients companies hope to market.
Scientific consultants dispute accusations that they are conflicted, arguing instead that they are the most qualified and most experienced scientists for the job.