The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission to conduct safety assessments for eleven smoke flavourings currently used in the EU by the end of this year. Its opinions will be used to establish a list of authorised smoke flavourings.
Smoking was traditionally used to preserve foods like fish, meat and dairy products. Over time and with the advent of advanced preservation techniques that practice has been continued more for the flavour it imparts to foods.
Smoke flavours are derived from the thermal degradation of wood; nowadays they are used for food products that would traditionally have been smoked – and for those that would not.
Although EFSA is independent and the European Commission is not bound to take its safety views on board, the concerns raised in the assessment of SmokEz C-10 and SmokEz Enviro 23 mean that the options available to manufacturers of smoke-flavoured products are likely to be considerably narrowed.
Earlier assessments have throw up safety concerns about five other smoke flavourings currently used due to limited toxicological data: Zesti Smoke Code 10, Unismoke, ScanSmoke PB1110, SmokEz C-10, and SmokEz Enviro 23.
A third new assessment found that Scansmoke SEF7525 is not of concern.
This joins Smoke Concentrate 809045 and ScanSmoke SEF7525 in the ranks of smoke flavours for which EFSA has no worries.
The risk assessor is also asked to give its view of smoke flavours that companies would like to place on the market, on the basis of administrative, technical and toxicological data submitted in their applications.
The assessment of smoke flavours and the concern they have generated has worked as a stimulous for some flavour firms in creating smoke flavours through other means.
For instance, in 2007 UK-based Create Flavours, launched a “cost effective, natural flavour" that it says can be used to make a range of products taste smoky.
"Until now food manufacturers wanting to impart smoked characteristics into their food products, such as snacks, smoky bacon, BBQ sauces or glazes, have had to use traditional smoking processes or smoke extracts," explained Jonathan Jones, the company's chief flavourist.
After 18 months work looking at the key aroma compounds of traditional flavourings, Jones and his team developed a natural alternative to recreate a "hickory type smoke" taste.
The three new opinions from EFSA on SmokEz C-10, SmokEz Enviro 23, and Scansmoke SEF7525 are available online at: