The European Food Safety Authority has initiated a consultation on its draft guidelines for evaluating the safety of food enzymes, giving the first insight into the requirements that will be placed on industry.
Enzymes perform a technological function in food, as they catalyze or accelerate biochemical reactions. Their uses include being added to foods to improve the texture, appearance or nutritional value, or to helping achieve optimum results in certain food production processes, such as cheese making or beer brewing.
The adoption of the new FIAP (food improvement agents package) regulation (1331/2008) at the end of 2008 means enzymes used as processing aids must be approved prior to their use in the UK. Until now approval has not been required for most of the EU, with the exception of France and Denmark.
The regulation has been generally welcomed by industry, with enzyme firms seeing one common authorisation procedure as preferable to having to seek separate approvals in France and Denmark.
However, as is often the case with new legislation, there has been a certain amount of caution over the burden the new regulation will have on industry and the publication of guide.
EFSA has said guidelines specify the type of information that industry should provide to enable its Scientific Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) to carry out the safety assessments on enzymes, including the description of chemical composition, properties and toxicological tests.
EFSA will use the information to assess the safety of the source materials (including the presence of possible impurities), the manufacturing process and the dietary exposure.
Full details of the consultation, which is open until 8 June, are available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902439387.htm
EFSA’s first task under the new regulation will be to evaluate food enzymes that are presently on the market in the European Union, which will aid the Commission in drawing up a list of authorised substances.
The next step will be safety evaluations of new food enzymes.
Comments to come
A spokesperson for Amfep, the Association of Manufacturers and Formulators of Enzyme Products, was not able to give views on the draft guidelines in time for publication of this article, as the association is currently assessing the document.
Amfep has been involved in dialogue with EFSA and the Commission, taking part in a public stakeholder meeting on 11 March. The spokesperson confirmed that Amfep will be submitting comments.