The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission in 2007 to conduct a thorough review of all the flavouring substances presently authorised for use in food in the EU.
As part of this review, the risk assessor has found that there is not enough information available on the safety of some substances, including: carvone-5, 6-oxide (fl-no 16.042), butyramide (fl no 10.049), aminoacetophenone (fl no 11.008), 5-methlfurfural (fl no 13.001), and 2-benzofurancarboxaldehyde (fl no 13.031).
“The panel concluded that data currently available were insufficient to exclude genotoxic potential of these substances and is requesting that applicants provide information that will confirm that these flavourings are safe to use in foods,” it said.
The initial work on the flavourings evaluation has been carried out by the AFC panel (on food additives, flavourings, processing aids, and materials in contact with food). In July this panel was dissolved and replaced by two others – the panel on food additives and nutrient sources added to food (ANS) and the panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids (CEF).
The CEF has taken up the flavouring evaluation work started by the AFC.
It expects the evaluation to be completed by the mid 2009; once it has given opinions on all available flavourings, these will be used by the European Commission to establish a positive list of those that are authorised for use in the EU going forward.
So far, EFSA says it has discussed and adopted some 70 opinions, some of which have already been published and some are expected to be published soon.
The risk assessor is going about the task by dividing the flavourings into 48 chemical groups, and is looking at each of the flavourings within these groups individually.
In April EFSA highlighted the need for more data on intake of certain flavourings.
To estimate per capita intake in Europe, the AFC panel used an approach derived from survey data known as the Maximised Survey-derived Daily Intakes (MSDIs) approach.
However, EFSA said that when the panel looked at data on use levels in foods supplied by the European flavouring industry, it found big differences.
"It appeared obvious that the MSDI approach in a number of cases would grossly underestimate the intake by regular consumers of products flavoured at the use level reported by the industry," said EFSA.
The intake estimate gap was found to concern flavouring substances with small annual production values in particular.