The term Food Chemical Codex (FCC) refers to a compendium of standards that is used internationally to ensure the quality and purity of food ingredients. The FCC helps manufacturers and consumers in recognizing genuine ingredients and substances and assures the quality of food products. Currently, the United States Pharmacopeia publishes the FCC every two years. The compendium was first published in 1966 by the Institute of Medicine and was acquired by the United States Pharmacopeia in 2006.

FCC standards are recognized in more than 130 countries around the world. In fact, some regulatory authorities and government bodies have incorporated these standards into their laws to help protect the quality of products and ingredients that are produced in or exported to their countries.

US law and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) regulations refer to FCC standards. Currently, over 200 FDA regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations incorporate the standards set forth in the Food Chemicals Codex compendium.

In Canada, food additives must comply with regulations issued by Health Canada. If no such regulations exist, specifications set by the FCC (Fourth Edition) are to be followed.

Australia and New Zealand’s governing body for such regulations (the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) recognizes standards set by the FCC (Sixth Edition) as the primary source of identity and purity for substances added to food.

In Brazil, FCC standards are recommended, along with other standards.

In Israel, Public Health Regulations state that those who produce, import, market or store food additives must comply with the requirements in the latest edition of the FCC or in the latest edition of the Compendium of Food Additive Specifications (JECFA).

Products that are labeled Food Chemical Codex Grade have met high standards and are considered safe however, in the case of diatomaceous earth, this term does not suggest that the product is safe or registered for human consumption. Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth products may be approved for use as a filtering and processing aid in the food industry, as long as the substance is removed from final goods offered for sale. In the United States, FCC compliant DE products are regulated by each state for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid (in amounts not to exceed two percent of total diet).

There is also confusion around DE being safe for human consumption due to GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. Again, with all FCC DE products, GRAS only refers to the acceptance of DE being used as a filtering or processing aid in food. The term GRAS when associated with DE does not refer to human consumption, as some web-sites may indicate.

In order for a DE product to be sold for human consumption it must undergo stringent and lengthy testing and be registered with the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) or CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for this purpose.

Image by Michael Graf