Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Carbon dioxide

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.

Carbon dioxide

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 117*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 1
  • ID Code: 124-38-9
  • Year: 1979
  • 21 CFR Section: 184.1240

SCOGS Opinion:

The Select Committee could find no data relating directly to the safety of carbon dioxide as a food ingredient. However, there is substantial evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide ingested with foods is negligible compared with that produced normally by the body. Carbon dioxide also has been administered experimentally without ill effects in amount orders of magnitude greater than from possible food sources.

Under resting conditions, an average adult will produce in excess of 500 g of carbon dioxide daily, approximately 2000 times the estimated intake from foods. During moderate or heavy activity, considerably greater amounts of carbon dioxide would be produced. The official occupational standard for the workroom atmosphere is 5000 ppm, equivalent to the inhalation during an 8-hour work day of about 30 g of carbon dioxide. Human subjects have been exposed to 1.5 percent carbon dioxide (a daily inhalation of over 200 g) continually for 42 days without serious or lasting ill effects.

The amount of bicarbonate that could be produced from the ingested carbon dioxide is far less than the amounts routinely ingested in food or used without ill effects as an antacid.

The Select Committee is not aware of any study on the mutagenicity of carbon dioxide. Carcinogenic actions have been reported only after repeated application of the solid form to the skin. Teratogenic effects were produced after inhalation of carbon dioxide at levels far higher than could be obtained from foods.

In considerations of these factors, the Select Committee concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on carbon dioxide 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.

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