The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls
about 80% of the US food supply. The administration is also responsible for inspecting
not only the ingredients of the food product but the packaging as well. There exist
ingredients that do not affect the food product’s taste or
makeup and are added because they affect factors like
shelf preservation, color and aroma.
These added ingredients are classified Generally
Recognized As Safe (GRAS). Industrial
gases that are employed in the food industry for Modified
Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and refrigeration are classified into this category.
In 1958 Congress enacted the Food
Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. One of the items that the amendment covered
was the definition of a Food Additive which was:
“Any substance the intended use for which results or may reasonably be
expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or
otherwise affecting the component of food.”
This did not include
substances like gas mixtures that are
classified as additives and not considered GRAS.
In the late 60’s cyclamate salts, which were employed
as an artificial sweetener in soft drinks and grouped as GRAS, began to be questioned. The outcome incited
then President Nixon to instruct the FDA to reexamine all
substances classified as GRAS. In 1997, the FDA declared that they did not
have enough resources to carry out all the insistence
that they were receiving for substances to be classified.
Since then, the materials that were originally considered
GRAS were upholding their classification and can
be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR). All substances requesting
classification after 1997 were given a GRAS Notice which is determined
by individual specialists outside the
government. In simpler
terms, a GRAS classification before 1997 was sanctioned by the FDA and later than
1997 by accord of recognized experts then briefly
audited by the FDA.
How does this apply
to gases used in MAP?
The main objective to keep in mind is that there is no federal certification
given to industrial gases used
for food processing be it freezing, formulation or packaging. The gases that are classified as GRAS are carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, nitrous
oxide and propane. The Code of Federal
Regulations section 184.1 describes each of these gases,
with respect to suitability, with the same phrasing. This, in part, is:
ingredient must be of a purity suitable for its intended use.
accordance with 184.1--- (last three numbers identify the gas), the ingredient is used in food with no
limitations other than current good manufacturing practice. The affirmation of this ingredient as
generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a direct human food ingredient is based
upon the following current good manufacturing conditions of use:
ingredient is used in food at levels not to exceed current good manufacturing
sanctions for this ingredient different from the uses established in this
section do not exist or have been waived.”
As declared above, gas suppliers are
only in charge of the purity of the gas and the other sanctions (i.e. … proper manufacturing practices…) are regulated
by the food processor or the gas supplier’s customer.
Likewise, hydrogen, carbon
monoxide and argon were recognized as ingredients
after 1997 and are not listed in 21 CFR.
Since then, they
been given a GRAS Notice under the heading of “No Questions” which insinuates
that the FDA had no questions as to the correctness of
the outside expert’s classification.
The crucial point to take from this article is that the any gases labeled “Food Grade” have been certified in house by the manufacturer rather than by the FDA.
The certification is by purity defined by best
practice in the manufacture and handling of the product to its final package (cylinders, micro-bulk vessels, transports and large cryogenic
vessels). Food processors are trained to search
for food grade products and wish to see clean packages
with clear labels. So having predetermined
“food grade” cylinders and/or tanks is crucial to sustain this market as is evidenced
by the major companies naming and trademarking their
respective lines of food grade gases.
information on food grade gases and MAP applications are available through PurityPlus. If you would like to purchase food grade gases
or other specialty gases for various industries in Sioux Falls, contact
A-OX Welding Supply at 605-336-1125 or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by John Segura.
John Segura is a licensed Professional Engineer and a well-rounded
executive in the industrial gas industry.
He has 30+ years of experience in areas involving sales,
marketing, and operations both domestically and internationally. He has been in charge
of teams of engineers and technicians as an R & D manager for major gas
companies. His work guided him to be in charge of the marketing
efforts of technology worldwide for industrial gas suppliers. He now consults to
the industry on the business specializing in operations, applications and