Food Additives: Do They Subtract from Our Health?

November 17, 2011
12:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Presenter PowerPoint Slides

David Wallinga: presentation slides

Erik Olson: Presentation slides

Additional Resources

Navigating the US Food Additive Regulatory Program, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Vol. 10, 2011

Enhancing FDA's Evaluation of Science to Ensure Chemicals Added to Human Food Are Safe: Workshop Proceedings, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Vol. 10, 2011

Factsheet: What Did Pew Health Group Find in Its Review of the US Food Additive Regulatory Program?
Download the factsheet

Press release: Food Chemical Regulations Rely Heavily on Industry Self-Policing and Transparency

Updated AP story: Industry decides food ingredient safety, Garance Burke, Oct 26, 2011

CSPI Petitions

Petition to the FDA to revoke the use of caramel coloring (February 2011)

Petition to the FDA to ban the use of Yellow 5 and other food dyes (June 2008)

Petition to revoke the GRAS status of salt (Nov 2005)

Petition to the FDA to revoke the use of partially hydrogenated oils (May 2004)

CSPI Reports

Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks (2010)

Diet, ADHD, and Behavior: A Quarter-Century Review (2009)


Chemical Cuisine—food additives resource
Visit the website

Food coloring database listing foods and the synthetic food dyes they contain

Listen to Recording

Food manufacturers and related trade associations have significant authority over what is put into our food, according to a report released late last month by the Pew Health Group. In fact, according to the report, Navigating the US Food Additive Regulatory Program, thousands of ingredients are not evaluated by or even known to the FDA—some of which may have significant impacts on health.

On this call, three experts on food issues and public health presented: David Wallinga, MD, highlighted an array of problems with our current food system; Erik Olson described the findings of the Pew report in more detail; and Michael Jacobson, PhD, discussed actions his organization has taken to champion science-based nutrition and food safety, specifically in regards to food additives.

Featured Speakers

David Wallinga, MD, MPA, is Senior Advisor in Science, Food and Health, at IATP. Dr. Wallinga applies a systems lens to think about health impacts of food and how it is produced, processed, packaged and distributed in today's global, industrialized food system. IATP identifies strategies for consumers to find healthier food produced more sustainably, as well as public policies that can help build food systems that also are healthier, less polluting and less obesogenic, while supporting farmers and rural communities. From 2009 through 2010, Dr. Wallinga was a William T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow in Food Systems and Public Health at University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. He received a medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School, a master’s degree from Princeton University and a bachelor’s from Dartmouth College.

Erik Olson is the director of Food Programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts.  He was deputy staff director and general counsel of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works until November 2008 and has 25 years of experience in environmental policy and consumer advocacy.  Erik is responsible for consumer product safety, including efforts to improve food safety, overhaul toxic chemical regulatory programs to better protect children and other vulnerable people and establish safeguards for emerging risks in consumer products.

Michael Jacobson, PhD, is co-founder and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit health advocacy organization supported largely by the 900,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter. CSPI is a key player in battles against obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems, using such tactics as education, legislation, and litigation. Jacobson has written numerous books and reports, including Six Arguments for a Greener Diet, “Salt: the Forgotten Killer,”and “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans’ Health.”  In October 2010, he received the 2010 Hero Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation.  Jacobson is the creator of national Food Day, October 24.

The call was moderated by Elise Miller, MEd, CHE Director.