As with many other elements used in food processing , additives originate very early in human history. For example, people learned in prehistoric terms that adding salt to meat would preserve it.
Likewise, smoke, which also acts as a preservative, might be considered an early food additive.
Over time, additives have come to thoroughly influence our eating habits, our taste preferences, and our socio cultural development.
The earliest legislation controlling the use of food additives took place in Britain in the 19th century, following the work of Frederick Accum, though its original impetus was the prevention of food adulteration.
In the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the regulation of ingredients that can be added to food.
It was not until 1958 that legislation was adopted requiring food and chemical manufacturers to test their additives before they were submitted to the FDA.
Before that lawn the FDA itself was responsible for testing the submitted additives. Thereafter, Congress established a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.
This list recognized that many substances that had been added to food for a long time were commonly seen as safe by qualified scientists, which exempted them from premarket clearance.
This list was revised in 1969 and as of 1980 contained 415 substances that were originally included in the 1958 project.
Today, manufacturers were responsibility for demonstrating their GRAS status and providing evidence (such as scientific literature) to support it. Approximately 100 new substances are presented to the FDA for GRAS certification very year.
Modern History of Food Additives