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EU set to harmonise use of flavouring substances

By Nathan Gray , 26-Apr-2012

The European Union is set to harmonise the use of flavouring substances across the bloc after member states endorsed the Commission’s proposal to establish a list of permitted flavouring substances.

The approval of the permitted flavouring substances list, in addition to a transitional measure on other flavourings, was agreed to at a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) earlier this week.

The two new pieces of legislation, which will enter into force once the comitology procedure concludes, will harmonise and create clear rules for the use of these substances within the EU.

The regulation will establish a new pan-European list of the 2,800 strong flavouring substances which have been assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and other scientific bodies. Under the new rules, the food industry in Europe will only be able to use flavouring substances that have been assessed and are published on the approved list.

The European Flavour Association (EFFA) said it welcomed the positive vote on both regulations. It said the establishment of a European Union list is a “milestone towards a harmonised EU framework for the safe use of flavourings.” The Association said in a statement that its membership is “fully prepared to comply with the new rules as set out in both Regulations."

The EFFA added that to the best of its knowledge, the formal adoption of the regulations by the Commission and the subsequent publication in the official journal “is expected later this year.”

New regulations

The regulations are set to come into force 20 days after publication in the official journal, with the list being applied for use six months later - a delay the EU said will provide ‘sufficient time’ for the food industry to adapt to the new rules. The EFFA clarified that flavouring substances not included in the list may still be be placed on the market and used in or on food until 18 months after the date of application of the list, meaning that unlisted flavours will be banned from use from two years and 20 days after publication in the journal.

The Commission said the move will improve transparency in industry, because the list will be available in an on-line database – allowing consumers, food businesses and national food control authorities to easily identify which flavouring substances are authorised.

The second ruling will bring in transitional measures for other flavourings, such as those made from non-food sources. These flavours will be evaluated and authorised at later stage. The adoption for this measure will apply immediately after its final approval.

The commission said the establishment of the Europe-wide list marks a ‘major step’ in the implementation of framework Regulation (EC) No 1334/2008 on flavourings – adopted in December 2008. 

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