Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Zinc Salts

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.

Zinc acetate, zinc carbonate, zinc chloride, zinc oxide, zinc sulfate

SCOGS Report Number: 21
NTIS Accession Number: PB266879*
Year of Report: 1973
GRAS SubstanceID Code

21 CFR Section

Zinc acetate557-34-6 
Zinc carbonate3486-35-9 
Zinc chloride7646-85-7182.8985
Zinc oxide1314-13-2182.8991
Zinc sulfate7446-20-0182.8997

SCOGS Opinion:

The available information indicates that a wide margin exists between present intake levels of zinc salts and those that have been reported to produce noticeably harmful effects. Similarly, the suggestion that zinc chloride is carcinogenic has not been supported in carefully controlled animal studies.

However, because of the central role of zinc as either an activator of certain enzymes or as a coenzyme in many metabolic reactions, it has been demonstrated that relatively large excesses of zinc salts in the diet can lead to metabolic dysfunctions. In particular, the interaction of zinc with several other mineral nutrients, notably iron, copper, and calcium, suggests that major modification of this nutritional balance might lead to significant metabolic disturbances. In consideration of this and the currently wide nutritional use of zinc sulfate and zinc oxide in infant formulas, it would be desirable, in due course, to expand our knowledge of the interaction of zinc salts in association with dietary levels of other essential mineral nutrients. It would also be desirable to establish maximum limits for the levels of zinc salts in foods, particularly in formulas for infants, since this segment of the population may now consume the highest level of zinc salts when calculated on a daily or body weight basis.

In view of the foregoing, the Select Committee concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on zinc sulfate, zinc oxide, zinc acetate, zinc carbonate, and zinc chloride that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public.

*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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