Flavouring agents under scrutiny

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food additives, Food additive

At the table earlier this month in Geneva ingredients and additive
experts met to discuss the safety of a host of flavouring agents
and the construction of further principles for setting the safety
levels of food additives.

Scientists pulled from all over the world met at the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in Switzerland from 8 to 17 June 2004.

The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate certain food additives and ingredients, flavouring agents, and a natural constituent of food.

An initiative between the UN-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation sparked the birth of JECFA - that gives us the commonly used acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) in food - in 1955. The role of the expert scientific committee is to 'address the technical and administrative aspects of chemical additives and their safety in food.'

Food additives under discussion at the meeting earlier this month include benzoyl peroxide, a-cyclodextrin, lutein from Tagetes erecta L.​, D-tagatose, and zeaxanthin.

Commenting on the decisions at the meeting, tagatose inventor Spherix international said: "JECFA has removed its former limit on daily consumption of the low-calorie, full-bulk sweetener. The new announcement should lead to expanded permitted uses of tagatose as a food additive throughout the international community."​ Since 1996 Scandinavian firm Arla Food Ingredients has produced and commercialised the tooth-friendly sweetener, approved for use in the US, Korea, and Australia/New Zealand.

A host of flavouring agents were evaluated and cleared for 'no safety concerns' including indole, 6-methylquinoline, skatole, 2-pentylpyridine, methyl nicotinate, terpinolene and bisabolene.

Dr John Larsen at the Danish Institute of Food and Veterinary Research, Denmark, served as chairman of the sixty-third meeting held in Geneva earlier this month and Inge Meyland, from the same institute, filled the role of vice-chairman.

A full account of the expert evaluations can be acquired from the JECFA​ site.

So far JECFA has evaluated more than 1300 food additives, approximately 25 contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants, and residues of about 80 veterinary drugs. The committee has also developed principles for the safety assessment of chemicals in food that are consistent with 'current thinking on risk assessment and take account of recent developments in toxicology and other relevant sciences.'

Related topics: Science, Flavours and colours

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