The nation’s food supply has changed dramatically since 1958 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established its program to regulate chemicals added to food. Over that time, Americans have significantly increased their consumption of processed foods, which often contain large amounts of chemical additives, yet concerns have been raised by industry and consumers alike that the FDA’s regulatory science has not kept pace.

From 2010 to 2013, The Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a comprehensive assessment of the federal food additives regulatory program. Relying on a transparent process that engaged stakeholders, Pew examined food additive issues in partnership with the food industry, the public interest community, and the federal government, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. We held five expert workshops and published six reports in peer-reviewed journals. This report summarizes our findings and provides recommendations to address the problems that we identified.

With more than 10,000 additives allowed in food, Pew’s research found that the FDA regulatory system is plagued with systemic problems, which prevent the agency from ensuring that their use is safe.

Our Work