A Center for Public Integrity analysis of publicly available data found that Joseph Borzelleca is the most active of a small group of scientists — including several with ties to Big Tobacco — that the food industry turns to over and over again to determine whether additives can be deemed “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, and avoid a rigorous pre-market government safety review.
Of the 379 panels convened to review the safety of new ingredients in the last 17 years, the Center for Public Integrity found, three-quarters included at least one of these 10 scientists. But none has even come close to serving on as many as Borzelleca, who has appeared on 41 percent of them.
Despite his decades of experience and praise heaped upon him by colleagues — one called him a “wonder” — critics of the GRAS system say Borzelleca is emblematic of a system that is rife with conflicts of interest. If scientists depend on the food industry for income, they may be less likely to contest the safety of ingredients companies hope to market, critics say.
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