Not to be confused with generally recognised as safe & effective!
This is the US official view:
“GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive. [Source: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/]
Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) is an FDA designation that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts, and so is exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food additive tolerance requirements [Source: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/default.htm
The USA has only 10 banned ingredients for use in cosmetics whereas the EU has nearly 1300 on their list!
I tried to get a comprehensive list of ingredients from the Australian government but there wasn’t one; so I emailed them. I did get a reply saying they” have one of the most stringent regulatory schemes for cosmetic products” but it appears than manufacturers have to apply to them when they launch a new product. Total clarity is missing!
I have written a book called ‘Banned’ showing the chemicals involved in each of these three countries. If you would like a copy let me know… it will be available for download from my site shortly.
I think the US needs to do a bit of catching up what do you think?