U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Oct 05, 2022
(a) General recognition of safety may be based only on the views of experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety of substances directly or indirectly added to food. The basis of such views may be either (1) scientific procedures or (2) in the case of a substance used in food prior to January 1, 1958, through experience based on common use in food. General recognition of safety requires common knowledge throughout the scientific community knowledgeable about the safety of substances directly or indirectly added to food that there is reasonable certainty that the substance is not harmful under the conditions of its intended use (see § 170.3(i)).
(b) General recognition of safety based upon scientific procedures shall require the same quantity and quality of scientific evidence as is required to obtain approval of a food additive. General recognition of safety through scientific procedures shall be based upon the application of generally available and accepted scientific data, information, or methods, which ordinarily are published, as well as the application of scientific principles, and may be corroborated by the application of unpublished scientific data, information, or methods.
(c)(1) General recognition of safety through experience based on common use in food prior to January 1, 1958, may be achieved without the quantity or quality of scientific procedures required for approval of a food additive. General recognition of safety through experience based on common use in food prior to January 1, 1958, shall be based solely on food use of the substance prior to January 1, 1958, and shall ordinarily be based upon generally available data and information. An ingredient not in common use in food prior to January 1, 1958, may achieve general recognition of safety only through scientific procedures.
(2) A substance used in food prior to January 1, 1958, may be generally recognized as safe through experience based on its common use in food when that use occurred exclusively or primarily outside of the United States if the information about the experience establishes that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use within the meaning of section 201(u) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (see also § 170.3(i)). Common use in food prior to January 1, 1958, that occurred outside of the United States shall be documented by published or other information and shall be corroborated by information from a second, independent source that confirms the history and circumstances of use of the substance. The information used to document and to corroborate the history and circumstances of use of the substance must be generally available; that is, it must be widely available in the country in which the history of use has occurred and readily available to interested qualified experts in the United States. A person who concludes that a use of a substance is GRAS through experience based on its common use in food outside of the United States should notify FDA of that view in accordance with subpart E of this part.
(d) The food ingredients listed as GRAS in part 182 of this chapter or affirmed as GRAS in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter do not include all substances that are generally recognized as safe for their intended use in food. Because of the large number of substances the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in their becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of food, it is impracticable to list all such substances that are GRAS. A food ingredient of natural biological origin that has been widely consumed for its nutrient properties in the United States prior to January 1, 1958, without known detrimental effects, which is subject only to conventional processing as practiced prior to January 1, 1958, and for which no known safety hazard exists, will ordinarily be regarded as GRAS without specific inclusion in part 182, part 184 or part 186 of this chapter.
(e) Food ingredients were listed as GRAS in part 182 of this chapter during 1958-1962 without a detailed scientific review of all available data and information relating to their safety. Beginning in 1969, the Food and Drug Administration has undertaken a systematic review of the status of all ingredients used in food based on the view that they are GRAS under the conditions of their intended use or subject to a prior sanction. All affirmations of GRAS status or determinations of food additive status or prior sanction status pursuant to this review shall be handled pursuant to §§ 170.35, 170.38, and 180.1 of this chapter. Affirmation of GRAS status shall be announced in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter.
(g) A food ingredient that is not GRAS or subject to a prior sanction requires a food additive regulation promulgated under section 409 of the act before it may be directly or indirectly added to food.
(h) A food ingredient that is listed as GRAS in part 182 of this chapter or affirmed as GRAS in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter shall be regarded as GRAS only if, in addition to all the requirements in the applicable regulation, it also meets all of the following requirements:
(1) It complies with any applicable food grade specifications of the Food Chemicals Codex, 2d Ed. (1972), or, if specifically indicated in the GRAS affirmation regulation, the Food Chemicals Codex, 3d Ed. (1981), which are incorporated by reference, except that any substance used as a component of articles that contact food and affirmed as GRAS in part 186 of this chapter shall comply with the specifications therein, or in the absence of such specifications, shall be of a purity suitable for its intended use. Copies may be obtained from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20418, or at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.
(2) It performs an appropriate function in the food or food-contact article in which it is used.
(3) It is used at a level no higher than necessary to achieve its intended purpose in that food or, if used as a component of a food-contact article, at a level no higher than necessary to achieve its intended purpose in that article.
(i) If a substance is affirmed as GRAS in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter with no limitation other than good manufacturing practice, it shall be regarded as GRAS if its conditions of use are not significantly different from those reported in the regulation as the basis on which the GRAS status of the substance was affirmed. If the conditions of use are significantly different, such use of the substance may not be GRAS. In such a case a manufacturer may not rely on the regulation as authorizing the use but must independently establish that the use is GRAS or must use the substance in accordance with a food additive regulation.
(j) If an ingredient is affirmed as GRAS in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter with specific limitation(s), it may be used in food only within such limitation(s) (including the category of food(s), the functional use(s) of the ingredient, and the level(s) of use). Any use of such an ingredient not in full compliance with each such established limitation shall require a food additive regulation.
(k) Pursuant to § 170.35, a food ingredient may be affirmed as GRAS in part 184 or part 186 of this chapter for a specific use(s) without a general evaluation of use of the ingredient. In addition to the use(s) specified in the regulation, other uses of such an ingredient may also be GRAS. Any affirmation of GRAS status for a specific use(s), without a general evaluation of use of the ingredient, is subject to reconsideration upon such evaluation.
(l) New information may at any time require reconsideration of the GRAS status of a food ingredient. Any change to the GRAS status of a food ingredient in parts 182, 184, or 186 of this chapter shall be accomplished pursuant to § 170.38.