In 1990, FDA outlawed several uses of the strawberry-toned FD&C Red No. 3, invoking the Delaney Clause. The banned uses include cosmetics and externally applied drugs, as well as uses of the color's non-water-soluble form. FDA previously had allowed these provisional uses while studies were in progress to evaluate the color's safety. Research later showed large amounts of the color cause thyroid tumors in male rats. Though FDA viewed the cancer risk by Red No. 3 as low, ca. 1 in 100,000 over a 70-year lifetime, the agency banned provisional listings because of Delaney directives. At the same time, Red No. 3 has permanent listings for food and drug uses that are still allowed, although the agency has announced plans to propose revoking these uses as well. For now, Red No. 3 can be used in foods and oral medications. Products such as maraschino cherries, bubble gum, baked goods, and all sorts of snack foods and candy may contain Red No. 3.
According to the International Association of Color Manufacturers, Red No. 3 is widely used in the industry and hard to replace. It makes a very close match for primary red, which is important in creating color blends. It does not bleed, and therefore drug companies use it to color pills with discernible shades for identification.
Yellow No. 4 (Tartrazine)
Methyl anthranilate is found in neroli oil and in citrus and other oils. It is prepared synthetically by esterification of anthranilic acid. It is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a bluish fluorescence. It has a grape-like odor. The acute LD50 in rodents is 3000 to 4000 mg/kg. Also, methyl anthranilate, a biochemical pesticide, is exempt from the requirement of a tolerance when used in accordance with good agricultural practices on the following raw agricultural commodities: blueberry, cherry, corn, grape, and sunflower.
Safrole (3,4-methylene-dioxyallylbenzene, C10H10O2, mol. wt. 162.19) was once used as a flavoring ingredient in root beer; however, it was banned in the 1960s after reports that it was carcinogenic in rodent studies. Safrole is found in trace amounts in many species such as black pepper, cinnamon, and sweet basil. Safrole and related compounds are found in many edible plants, including sassafras. The FDA banned the sale of sassafras tea in 1976.
Monosodium Glutamate (msg)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. It is derived from glutamate, an amino acid found in all protein-containing foods and one of the most abundant and important components of proteins. Glutamate occurs naturally in protein-containing foods such as cheese, milk, mushrooms, meat, fish, and many vegetables. Glutamate is also produced by the human body and is vital for growth, nerve metabolism, and brain function.
When MSG is added to foods, it provides a flavoring function similar to the glutamate that occurs naturally in food and has been used effectively to bring out meaty taste in foods. Many researchers also believe that MSG imparts a fifth taste, "umami," independent of the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. This taste in Japan is described as savory or meaty. It works well with a variety of foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, and many vegetables. It is used to enhance the flavor of some soups, stews, meat-based sauces, and snack foods.
The average adult consumes ca. 11 g of glutamate per day from natural protein sources and less than 1 g of glutamate per day from MSG. In contrast, the human body creates ca. 50 g of glutamate daily for use as a vital component of metabolism.
The U.S. FDA has found no evidence to suggest any long-term serious health consequences from consuming MSG. It is possible that some people might be sensitive to MSG, as they are to many other foods and food ingredients. There are some reports that mild, temporary reactions to MSG may occur in a small portion of the population, based on tests with a large dose of MSG in the absence of food.
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