Following a request from the European Commission to investigate the risk to human halt of a raft of flavouring substances used in food products today, the 18 member panel of scientific experts conclude that for nine of the ten flavouring substances investigated, more reliable exposure data is necessary to make a value judgement.
Currently, Europe does not possess a positive list for flavouring substances, but instead a register of about 2500 substances.
But preparing for incoming legislation, scientists on the Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) panel have until July 2005 to assess the 1000 flavouring substances in the register that are in need of a safety evaluation, and that would feature on forthcoming positive list.
Each flavouring substance under the spotlight is attributed a Flavis number (FL-number) and all substances are divided into 34 chemical groups.
The latest EFSA opinion dealt with seven phenethyl alcohol derivatives (alcohol, esters and acetals), one phenethyl aldehyde derivative and two phenylacetates - all of which belong to chemical group 15, Annex I of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1565/2000 (EC, 2000).
"On the basis of additional data, the flavouring substances FL-no: 02.166, 06.078, 06.080, 09.201, 09.620, 09.684, 09.685, 09.686, and 09.761 should be reconsidered along the steps of the procedure," reports the AFC panel this week.
Once the 1000 list is complete, the panel findings will provide the European Commission with a positive list of flavouring substances for use in or on foods: the list will then have to be recognised by member states.
If the Commission opts to delete a substance from the list (for instance, pentane-2,4-dione), the member states will not be able to use them at a national level.
In principle, the positive list is due for completion this year.
The full evaluation of the latest AFC panel can be accessed on the EFSA site.