Carnauba wax (E903) is a mixture of compounds derived from the Brazilian Mart wax palm, Copernicia cerifera, which is commonly used as a coating or glazing ingredient, particularly in confectionery, chocolate-coated bakery products, snacks, nuts and coffee beans, and it is also used as a surface treatment on fresh fruits.
The European Commission had requested a re-evaluation of the ingredient because although the purity criteria for food additives, including carnauba wax, were defined in a European Directive in 2008, they are due to be updated under a new Regulation due to come into effect in December 2012.
“Overall, the Panel considered that long-term toxicity data on carnauba wax were lacking and therefore did not establish an ADI,” the ANS panel concluded.
“However, the Panel considered that the exposure estimates to carnauba wax from the proposed uses resulted in sufficient margins of safety compared to the identified No Observed Adverse Effect Levels (NOAELs) for carnauba wax, allowing the Panel to conclude that the use of carnauba wax as a food additive with the currently authorised uses would not be of safety concern.”
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) previously has evaluated the safety of carnauba wax as an ingredient and has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) level of 7 mg per kilogram of body weight a day.
Under EU law, maximum permitted use is 200 mg/kg food, except for in confectionery, for which it may be used up to 500 mg/kg and on chewing gum up to 1200 mg/kg.