The European Commission will review 11 authorised smoke flavouring primary products later this month, taking into consideration the European Food Safety Authority‘s (EFSA) previous safety concerns.
Based on EFSA’s evaluations of all the smoke flavourings already in use within the EU, the draft regulation will be discussed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) on October 21 after preliminary discussions were had on July 1, a spokesperson at the European Commission told FoodNavigator.
The products which have been reviewed by EFSA are Unilever’s Unismoke, Arrow Products Company’s SmokeEz C-10 and SmokeEz Enviro-23, Nactis Sofral’s Tradismoke TM A MAX, ProFagus GmgH’s Scansmoke R909, Azelis Denmark’s Scansmoke PB and 1110 and Scansmoke SEF 7525, and Komopozicio’s Fumokomp.
Smoke flavourings are obtained by fractionation and purification of a condensed smoke which can be produced by the burning of untreated wood. This is an alternative way of adding the “smoked” flavour achieved when foods like fish, meat and cheeses are smoked for taste and preservative reasons. This technique can be used in the case of these kinds of traditionally smoked foods as well as with foods like soups, sauces and confectionery.
EFSA – which is not involved in the authorisation of products but provides independent scientific advice and communication on food chain risks – has made several rulings on such products in the past.
In a report back in 2010, chair of EFSA’s expert Panel on flavourings, Klaus-Dieter Jany, said: “The Panel based its conclusions on the limited data which are currently available as well as conservative – or cautious – intake estimates.
“The Panel expressed safety concerns for several smoke flavourings where intake levels could be relatively close to the levels which may cause negative health effects. However, this does not necessarily mean that people consuming these products will be at risk as, in order to be on the safe side, the consumption estimates deliberately over-estimate intake levels,” he wrote.
Most recently the authority updated its safety assessment of the smoke flavouring Primary Product SmokEz Enviro 23 after fresh use levels, chemical data and a new 90-day toxicity study was received.
After this further review EFSA wrote: “Given that these margins of safety are based on 90-day toxicity studies, and given the absence of data on reproduction, developmental toxicity and of long term studies, it is concluded that the uses and use levels of Primary Product would require a larger margin of safety. The Panel concluded that the proposed use of the Primary Product at the uses and use levels specified is of safety concern.”
Smoke flavourings are regulated separately from other flavourings as they consist of complex mixtures of substances derived from specific processes to obtain this type of taste, which give rise to different safety issues.
In June 2007, EFSA’s former AFC Panel published an opinion on a smoke flavouring which had raised particular concerns and which the Panel found to be genotoxic in animals. This product was subsequently withdrawn from the market.