Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Mustard and Oil of Mustard (Brown and Yellow)

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.

Mustard and Oil of Mustard (Brown and Yellow)

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 16*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 1
  • ID Code: 57-06-7
  • Year: 1975
  • 21 CFR Section: 182.10

SCOGS Opinion:

The two mustards (brown and yellow) commonly used in the United States are derived from two Brassica species that differ with respoect to the major chemical constituents of their essential oils. The available information shows that the characteristic isothiocyanates, other known constituents, and decomposition products of the essential oils of both mustards, have low orders of oral toxicity in experimental animals. Further, there is no reported evidence that orally administered doses of these constituents are carcinogenic, teratogenic, or mutagenic. However, interpretation of the available information suffers from a general lack of specificity on the part of investigators concerning the identity of the particular mustard used in their experiments, and from the fact that the major constituents of the essential oils are either very volatile or unstable, making it speculative how much of each of these substances was actually present in the preparation tested. The industrial practice of using mextures of mustards to impart desired flavors compounds the problem of relating the results of toxicological studies to conditions that may exist in foods. For the same reasons, the amounts of the essential mustard oil constituents actually present in foods at the time of consumption are unpredictably variable, but must be less than the amounts calculated from the reported daily human intake levels of mustard.

The Select Committee has made an exhaustive search for information relevant to the health aspects of mustard and mustard oils as food ingredients and is confident that the literature evaluated in this report is representative and significant as a basis for judgment. However, because of the long history of use of the mustards in or on foods without apparent adverse effects on man, and because, as a consequence, they have been generally recognized as safe, there have been few well-defined toxicological studies. The Select Committee is of the opinion that the mustards are examples of substances where more definitive toxicological studies on representative samples of the products actually used by the food industry would be useful in confirming the apparent absence of adverse health effects when they are used in or on foods. Moreover, in products like the mustards, which consist of variable mixtures of mustard seeds containing several chemical entities, the toxicological study of the products as actually used, at levels that approximate or exceed those now in current use, would be of greater significance and usefulness than the separate study of constituents known or assumed to be present.

The Select Committee has weighed the foregoing data and concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on allyl isothiocyanate, p-hydroxybenzyl isothiocyanate, and brown and yellow mustard that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are 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.

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