In the widest sense, all chemicals added to food are called food additives. As defined by the federal government, a food additive is “a material that is reasonably expected to become a component of or alter the properties of food via its intended usage, either directly or indirectly”. This term encompasses food and the goods, materials, and chemicals utilized in preparation, processing, packing, transportation, and storage. The legal definition, on the other hand, is designed to impose a pre-market permission requirement. Thus, it does not, for example, include ingredients whose use is generally recognized as safe and therefore does not require government approval. In addition, the ingredients are approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or US Department of Agriculture (USDA) before the passage of the Food Additives Act and pesticides and color additives that require legal pre-market approval.

Indirect food additives are introduced to foods in tiny amounts due to packing, storage, or handling. When goods are stored, packaging materials, for example, might leak into them. Food packaging producers must demonstrate that their products fulfill stringent safety criteria. The FDA must authorize materials that come into touch with food before being used in this way.

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Indirect Food Additives: Adhesives
It is essential to learn about adhesion agents and how they are controlled to assure their safety. Pre-market approval is necessary for food additives; however, many food contact compounds do not migrate and hence do not require this clearance. As a result, these drugs are not subject to pre-market approval. In the instance of glue used in food packaging, it is classified as an “indirect food additive” of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) governs this usage, which the FDA regulates. Manufacturers may employ any of the compounds specified in Section 175.105(c) in addition to the particular restrictions listed therein, as long as they follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and utilize a functional barrier to separate the glue from the food. Thus, food contact adhesives may still be applicable while not being listed in food additive legislation. These approaches come under the threshold of regulation exemption (TOR) and food contact notification (FCN) methods.

A food contact substance is any substance that is meant to be used solely as a component of materials used to produce, pack, package, transport, or keep food. Food contact chemicals are those that have no intended technical impact on food. The chemical must migrate to the food above a de minimis level to be deemed a food additive. In reality, pre-market approval is only necessary for chemicals that are also food additives (that is, are reasonably likely to be included in the food).

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) as an Indirect Additive
Indirect additives become a part of the food during the manufacture, packing, or storage of a food item. PET is a transparent and lightweight material extensively used for packaging foods and beverages. PET consists of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid that combine to form a polymer chain. The resulting strands of PET get pulled, quickly cooled, and cut into tiny pellets. The resin pellets are then transformed into a molten liquid and later manipulated into items of practically any shape.