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EU adopts list of approved flavouring substances

01.10.12 | News

Flavouring substances in food will become even safer and more transparent thanks to two pieces of legislation adopted today by the European Commission. Only those flavouring substances featuring on the approved lists will be permitted for use by the food industry.

Used to alter the taste and/or odour of food, flavourings substances have a long history of safe use in a wide variety of foods, such as soft drinks, confectionery, cereals, cakes and yoghurts, and have now been evaluated at EU level.

"Thanks to on-going efforts by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and other scientific bodies, this legislation on flavouring substances will vastly improve the transparency of information to citizens and industry alike. It will be easier for all concerned to know exactly which flavouring substances can be used in food." said John Dalli Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner.

These two new pieces of legislation will clarify and harmonise the use of flavouring substances within the single market:

  • The first Regulation provides for a new EU wide list of flavouring substances which can be used in food and will apply from 22 April 2013, giving time for the EU food industry to adapt to the new rules. All flavouring substances not in the list will be prohibited after a phasing out period of 18 months.
  • The second Regulation concerns transitional measures for other flavourings such as flavourings made from non-food sources and will apply from 22 October 2012.

The new list includes over 2,100 authorised flavouring substances. A further 400 will remain on the market until EFSA concludes its evaluation. These have been used for a long time and have already been assessed as safe by other scientific bodies.

Transparency and clarity of information is one of the main benefits of the new rules. The authorised uses of flavouring substances will be listed according to the category of food to which they may be added. Transparency will be improved as the list will also be available in an on-line database allowing consumers, food businesses and national food control authorities to easily identify which flavouring substances are authorised in food.

A flavouring substance may only be authorised if its use meets the following conditions:

  • it does not, on the basis of the available scientific evidence, pose risks to the health of the consumer at the level of the proposed use;
  • its use does not mislead the consumer.

When authorising flavourings other relevant factors may also be considered. These could include amongst others ethical, traditional or environmental factors.

National enforcement authorities have the task to ensure that food containing any unauthorised flavouring substances is withdrawn from the market. They should also inform the European Commission and other Member States on the substance in question through the EU's Rapid Alert System for food and feed (RASFF).