Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Gum Arabic

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.

Gum Arabic

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 1*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 2
  • ID Code: 9000-01-5
  • Year: 1973
  • 21 CFR Section: 184.1330

SCOGS Opinion:

In common with many other food ingredients of natural origin, commercial gum arabic is a relatively crude and undefined material. In view of the demonstrated indications that sensitization is due to the gum polysaccharide itself, it becomes important to know, nevertheless, to what extent extraneous contaminants such as protein may be contained in the commercial product. The Select Committee suggests consideration of revising the specifications for gum arabic to establish limits for the content of materials such as protein that may possibly be associated with some of the observed biological effects of the commercial gum.

In view of the prevalence of allergies to gum arabic, and its increasing use in a wide variety of food products, additional experiments should be undertaken to evaluate the significance of its allergenicity in the population as a whole. An epidemiological survey might determine whether significant numbers of persons are being placed in a state of receptiveness to cross-reactive allergies based upon daily lifelong exposures to gum arabic and two other gums allerged to be allergenic-gum tragacanth and karaya gum.

Gum arabic, fed at relatively high levels, is reported to be toxic to pregnant animals of one species, hence it may be advisable, in due course, to conduct feeding studies in several animal species, including pregnant animals, at dosage levels that approximate and exceed the current maximum daily human intake.

The Select Committee has weighed the foregoing and concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on gum arabic that demonstrates a hazard to the public when it is used at levels that are now current and in the manner now practiced. However, it is not possible to determine without additional data, whether a significant increase in consumption would constitute a dietary hazard.

*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.

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