For over 35 years, an independent panel of expert scientists has served as the primary body for evaluating the safety of flavour ingredients. This group, the Expert Panel of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers' Association (FEMA), has achieved international recognition from the flavour industry, government regulatory bodies including the Food and Drug Administration, and the toxicology community for its unique contributions. To date, the Expert Panel has evaluated the safety of more than 1700 flavour ingredients and determined the vast majority to be 'generally recognized as safe' (GRAS). Elements that are fundamental to the safety evaluation of flavour ingredients include exposure, structural analogy, metabolism, pharmacokinetics and toxicology. Flavour ingredients are evaluated individually taking into account the available scientific information on the group of structurally related substances. The elements of the GRAS assessment program as they have been applied by the Expert Panel to the group of 119 alicyclic substances used as flavour ingredients, and the relevant scientific data which provide the basis for the GRAS status of these substances, are described herein. This publication is the first of a series on GRAS flavour ingredients.