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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Formic acid (packaging)

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.

Formic acid (packaging)

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 71*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 1
  • ID Code: 64-18-6
  • Year: 1976
  • 21 CFR Section: 186.1316

SCOGS Opinion:

Formic acid is a natural constituent of many foods. It is a metabolite in normal intermediary metabolism, and is a precursor in the biosynthesis of several body constituents. The tolerance of the body to large amounts is relatively high. For example, 160 mg of formic acid per kg of body weight orally was tolerated by rats; men reportedly 8 mg of formic acid per kg per day orally for a period of four weeks; and no adverse effects were reported in rats that received 730mg of sodium formate per kg in their diet for one and a half years. Average daily intake of ethyl formate and formic acid is about 1 mg per kg or less as formic acid. Although formic acid appears to be moderately mutagenic in E.coli and Drosophila, ethyl formate is not mutagenic toward strain D4 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae or to three strains of Salmonella typhimurium. No adverse effects attibutable to formate were found in five successive generations of rats given up to 200 mg of calcium formate per kg of body weight daily. Based on these considerations, the Select Committee concludes that: There is no evidence in the available information on formic acid and sodium formate that demonstrates or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect a hazard to the public when they are used as ingredients of paper and paperboard food packaging materials, or as they might reasonably be expected to be used for such purposes in the future. There is no evidence in the available information on ethyl formate that demonstrates or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect a hazard to the public when it is used at levels that are now current and in the manner now practiced 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.