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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Helium gas

The GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Database allows access to opinions and conclusions from 115 SCOGS reports published between 1972-1980 on the safety of over 370 Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food substances. The GRAS ingredient reviews were conducted by the Select Committee in response to a 1969 White House directive by President Richard M. Nixon.

Helium gas

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 112*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 1
  • ID Code: 7440-59-7
  • Year: 1979
  • 21 CFR Section: 184.1355

SCOGS Opinion:

The NRC survey did not identify any use of helium gas as a commercially added food ingredient; however, one manufacturer has reported that is was used during food processing to detect leaks from aerosol cannisters. Considering its low solubility in water and fats, its chemical inertness, and its high diffusion coefficient, the amounts of helium consumed from foods exposed to it would be minute. Although no feeding tests on foods exposed to helium have been reported, the negative results from many inhalation studies involving high concentrations and pressures of the gas with both man and animals, and other studies on tissue cultures, suggest that no adverse physiological effects would result, even from consumption of foods saturated with helium during commercial processing and storage. There are no food grade specifications for helium and storage. There are no food grade specifications for helium gas; it is suggested that such standards should be developed. In the light of these considerations, the Select Committee concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on helium gas that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when it is used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.

*Complete reports containing details of the safety studies that formed the basis of the opinions and conclusions and are available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161 (703) 605-6000.