The Expert Panel of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers' Association (FEMA) has assessed the safety of furfural for its continued use as a flavour ingredient. The safety assessment takes into account the current scientific information on exposure, metabolism, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, carcinogenicity and genotoxicity. Furfural was reaffirmed as GRAS (GRASr) as a flavour ingredient under conditions of intended use based on: (1) its mode of metabolic detoxication in humans; (2) its low level of flavour use compared with higher intake levels as a naturally occurring component of food; (3) the safety factor calculated from results of subchronic and chronic studies, (4) the lack of reactivity with DNA; and (5) the conclusion that the only statistically significant finding in the 2-year NTP bioassays, an increased incidence of hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas in the high-dose group of male mice, was secondary to pronounced hepatotoxicity. Taken together, these data do not indicate any risk to human health under conditions of use as a flavour ingredient. This evidence of safety is supported by the occurrence of furfural as a natural component of traditional foods, at concentrations in the diet resulting in a 'natural intake' that is at least 100 times higher than the intake of furfural from use as a flavour ingredient.
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