Food and Drug Administration:

Carrageenan Food Additive from the Philippines Conforms to Regulations

HEHS-94-141: Published: Aug 2, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulation of a food additive, focusing on FDA: (1) classification of the additive as carrageenan; (2) determination that the additive is safe for food use; and (3) plans to investigate recent allegations that the additive is contaminated with an illegal pesticide.

GAO found that: (1) FDA based its classification of the additive on its regulations for traditionally refined carrageenan which do not require the additive's manufacturers to submit a food additive petition; (2) FDA determined that the additive was safe and there were no significant qualitative differences between the additive and traditionally refined carrageenan; (3) in response to manufacturers' questions about the propriety of the classification and the additive's safety, FDA requested and reviewed data on the additive's safety and again concluded that it was safe; (4) traditional manufacturers have petitioned FDA to change its regulations so that the additive would be named and marketed differently from carrageenan; and (5) in response to allegations, FDA is testing the additive for unapproved pesticide residues.

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