The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States (FEMA) is comprised of flavor manufacturers, flavor users, flavor ingredient suppliers, and others with an interest in the U.S. flavor industry. Founded in 1909, it is the national association of the U.S. flavor industry. FEMA works with legislators and regulators to assure that the needs of members and consumers are continuously addressed. FEMA is committed to assuring a substantial supply of safe flavoring substances.
The Association’s emphasis is on activities which individual or small groups of companies are unable to effectively accomplish on their own. FEMA performs its work chiefly through the efforts of industry executives and scientists, augmented by a professional staff experienced in dealing with legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, academic institutions, scientific organizations, media, and industry groups.
The Association draws upon the extensive experience and expertise of industry members through an active committee structure, to address a wide variety of matters of interest to the industry. FEMA is also a founding member of the International Organization of the Flavor Industry (IOFI), which is an association of regional and national associations of the flavor industry, headquartered in Switzerland.
Universal acceptance of the value of flavorings.
FEMA is the authoritative voice advancing the safe and responsible use of flavorings.
FEMA furthers the business interests of its members through a sound scientific program designed to promote the safe use of flavors. Through effective representation of its members, FEMA fosters a global environment in which the flavor industry can create, innovate, and compete.
Integrity | Sound Science | Safety | Education | Sustainability
- Advocacy: FEMA is recognized as the premier advocate regarding flavorings.
- Education: FEMA is relied upon as an authoritative educational resource fostering growth and development for member companies.
- Science: FEMA expands its scientific credibility.
- Industry Intellectual Property Protection: FEMA promotes the protection of member company intellectual property.
- Awareness: FEMA builds the narrative on flavorings in support of key stakeholders.
FEMA has earned a distinguished reputation for effective action and scientific excellence, both in the United States and abroad, through the performance of its services to the flavor industry for over 100 years. FEMA attributes this to the high degree of participation from its members in substantive association activities.
FEMA’s Most Important Activities
FEMA’s scientific programs are designed to ensure the continued availability of safe flavoring substances. They include the collection and analysis of data pertinent to safety evaluation, development of safety criteria, and the conduct of appropriate scientific studies necessary to determine or verify ingredient safety. Much of this information is available to members from a computerized database, and is published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
The FEMA GRAS List
FEMA has developed an innovative program utilizing the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) concept to evaluate the safety of flavoring substances. The independent FEMA Expert Panel determines the GRAS status of flavoring substances resulting in a GRAS list of over 2,800 ingredients for use by the industry. The Expert Panel periodically reviews the status of substances and provides an opportunity for the introduction of new flavoring substances. The FEMA GRAS program is the longest-running and most successful industry GRAS program and continues to gain increasing acceptance worldwide.
FEMA responds to legislative and regulatory activities on the federal, state and international levels affecting the manufacturing, labeling, and use of flavors and flavoring substances. FEMA’s regulatory program represents members’ interest in laws and regulations involving taxes, trade secret protection, workplace safety, environmental protection, and product safety. In proactively representing the industry’s interests, FEMA seeks to avoid the imposition of unreasonable restraints and burdens on the industry, while protecting the public interest
FEMA is constantly alert to proposals, both within the United States and internationally, which could infringe on its members’ rights to protect their valuable intellectual property. FEMA acts promptly to preserve those rights.
FEMA participates in the development and review of specifications for flavoring substances for publication in the Food Chemicals Codex and for use by international organizations. It also participates in a U.S. Technical Advisory Group which helps develop and review ISO Standards for essential oils.
FEMA supports the harmonization of U.S. and foreign regulations involving the manufacture, use, and labeling of flavors throughout the world.
Annual meetings provide the opportunity for members to be updated on important issues and exchange information among themselves. Workshops on regulatory, scientific and consumer product developments help educate members and provide assistance with compliance requirements.
FEMA closely monitors and addresses proposed changes in federal and state laws and regulations affecting flavor labeling. FEMA urges and promotes compliance with labeling laws and regulations through programs, workshops and publications.
People have been using spices and other flavorings to add zest to their food and their lives since well before recorded history. From early times, flavors have been part of a quest to make life more enjoyable and to help make foods and beverages taste better.
Our own native land came to the world’s attention because Christopher Columbus sailed off in 1492 to seek a faster route to Far Eastern spice sources. Centuries later, the advent of commercial food processing created the need for flavors that were familiar to consumers yet could be incorporated into the new methods of mass production of food.
Businesses in Germany and Switzerland were the first to expand the market significantly, through the development of synthetic aromatic chemicals that served as the basis for many new artificial flavors. Most of these early commercially produced flavoring substances traced their roots to indigenous ingredients “discovered” by Columbus and other early explorers.
In the United States, many flavor companies began as importers of European essential oils and other flavoring substances. They soon expanded to meet local economic and market needs by formulating and manufacturing ingredients domestically. At the beginning of the 1900s, a growing number of food and beverage companies including Kellogg, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, created even more demand for commercial flavors.
Forward-thinking executives of these early U.S. flavor firms recognized the value of joining together to support the growth of the industry. Formalizing their association in the wake of the first Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906, these early pioneers created the Flavoring Extract Manufacturers’ Association (FEMA), the forerunner of today’s Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, in 1909.
The growing demand for pure, high-quality flavorings helped FEMA quickly evolve into an organization that not only reflected its members’ business concerns but also took the lead in protecting consumer interests. Sometimes, FEMA found it necessary to defend the integrity of the industry because its very mystique made it a victim of scurrilous press attacks or widespread misconceptions.
As early as 1914, FEMA could “claim to occupy the important position of being the guardian of the interests of the flavoring extract manufacturing industry of the United States…[and]…in a position to shape the future course of the extract industry of the country,” according to Thomas Lannen, FEMA’s first attorney and the first U.S. food and drug lawyer.
And shape the industry FEMA has done over the past 100 years, from formulating standards to fighting unfair taxation to contributing to the 1958 Food Additives Amendment and so much more. Perhaps the most notable is the FEMA GRAS program, which has been in the forefront of the concept of using science to demonstrate safety, and has grown to be a globally respected pillar of flavor safety assessment. The association’s efforts to promote quality and safety, weed out problem ingredients and help its members protect their valuable trade secrets have become a model of what a trade association can and should be.
FEMA’s leadership, its knowledge and awareness of industry trends, and its proactive posture on industry issues have helped its member companies survive and thrive. In an age when consumers focus on healthy eating, counting calories, reducing fat and, as some might say, taking the joy out of food, our industry continues to play a pivotal role by enhancing the experience of eating and drinking through the use of safe and distinctive flavor ingredients.
Comprising more than 100 companies today, many with deep roots in the industry, FEMA continues to provide value for its members and to enlist their expertise and support in developing strategies for the future.
Excerpt from Introduction to FEMA 100: A Century of Great Taste, written by Howard Smith Jr., FEMA President 2008–2009 and President of Virginia Dare Extract Co, Inc., a fourth generation FEMA member.