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EC comments on Codex food additive standards

By Anthony Fletcher , 02-Oct-2006

The EC has commented on Codex's proposed new food additive standards.

The 38th session of the Codex committee on food additives and contaminants (CCFAC) requested additional comments on the food additive provisions, with a deadline of 15 September.

The request was made on the understanding that if information were not provided, the next session of the General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) committee would discontinue work on these food additive provisions.

 

BHA INS: 320 Butylated Hydroxyanisole, an antioxidant

 

BHT INS: 321 Butylated Hydroxytoluene, an antioxidant and adjuvant

 

The EC has questioned whether these ingredients, when added to food category 0.52 (confectionery, including hard and soft candy), are added to be functional in the final product, or whether they are a carry over from the fat used in the manufacture of these products, which are heat treated.

 

BHT INS: 321 Butylated Hydroxytoluene, an antioxidant and adjuvant

 

The EC also said that it felt that the use of BHT in food categories 08.2 and 08.3 (processed meat and processed comminuted meat) is only technologically justified for dehydrated products. Unsaturated fats are susceptible to oxidation, which causes fat rancidity.

 

In the case of dehydrated meat products the moisture content is reduced and the fat content is relatively high. The high fat content combined with lengthy storage at room temperature makes these products more sensitive to fat oxidation. The addition of antioxidants is therefore necessary to retard oxidation.

 

On the other hand for non-dehydrated products such as bacon, frozen raw or cooked meat, cooked meatballs or corned beef the use of the antioxidant would not be justified, as oxidation should be minimised by the appropriate handling of these products i.e. efficient transport, ideal storage conditions at low temperatures, canning and appropriate shelf life of the products.

 

TBHQ INS: 319 Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, an antioxidant

 

The EC also believes that the use of TBHQ in food categories 08.2 and 08.3 is only technologically justified for dehydrated products, for the same reasons as mentioned above.

 

Sulphites: Sulphur Dioxide INS: 220, acidity regulator; Sodium Sulphite INS: 221, adjuvant; Sodium Hydrogen Sulphite INS: 222, antioxidant; Sodium Metabisulphite INS: 223, bleaching agent (not for flour); Potassium Metabisuphite INS: 224, flour treatment agent; Potassium Sulphite INS: 225, firming agent; Calcium Hydrogen Sulphite INS: 227, preservative; Potassium Bisulphite INS: 228, sequestrant; Sodium Thiosulphate INS: 539, stabiliser

 

The EC said it would support the maintenance of the proposed level for the use of sulphites at 70 mg/kg for food category 11.3 (sugar solutions and syrups, (partially) inverted, including treacle and molasses).

 

This food category corresponds to a non-standardised and very heterogeneous group of products. Sulphites are necessary to preserve these products notably the molasses.

 

The EC said that the use of sulphites in such products at a maximum level of 70 mg/kg would not contribute significantly to the sulphite intake.

 

The EC said that the use of sulphites is also essential in mustards in order to ensure the good preservation of the products, to guarantee their colour, their shelf life and their organoleptic quality.

 

In the absence of sulphites, the product oxidises quickly, resulting in browning and formation of undesirable flavours. No other additive could show equivalent properties.

 

It is therefore imperative to maintain a maximum level of 250 mg/kg in mustards in general and of 500 mg/kg in more sensitive Dijon mustard.

 

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