Phase one of EFSA’s flavour substance review is complete

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, European union, European commission

EFSA says it has completed phase one of its safety review of flavouring substances used in the EU, with opinions on 2067 substances delivered, and will start to assess new flavourings submitted in accordance with new guidelines.

Work on establishing a positive list of flavourings began in 1999. Klaus-Dieter Jany, chair of EFSA’s scientific panel on flavourings, said: “This is a major achievement in terms of consumer protection. For the first time all flavouring substances currently available for use in the EU have been independently assessed for safety at European level base on the latest available scientific data and according to the same rigorous criteria.”

However there are still 400 substances for which more data is required from industry in order for EFSA to deliver its final opinions. EFSA spokesperson Lucia de Luca confirmed to FoodNavigator.com that the data required related to toxicology, as experts look at this first.

However Jany said: “This does not necessarily mean that these substances pose a health risk, just that we need further information to be able to complete our safety assessments.”

Additional information on some of the 400 has already been received, and EFSA’s panel is working on these.

Of the 2067, 1667 did not give grounds for any safety concerns. In cases where the panel has seen serious grounds for concern about specific flavourings, these are communicated immediately to risk managers at the European Commission who can make a decision on whether they should no longer be used.

This has happened in the case of isoprene (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene) due to genotoxic potential and carcinogenic effects in experimental animals, and in the case of smoke flavouring FF-B, which was seen to be weakly genotoxic in vivo.

EFSA is developing a database of flavouring safety opinions which will be made available online.

It will also start assessments of new flavouring substances submitted in accordance with the new guidelines, drawn up through stakeholder consultation. The guidelines are available here. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/scdocs/scdoc/1623.htm

The outstanding flavour substances have all been approved by the Joint WHO/UN Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), a green light which is seen as adequate in some other parts of the world.

Speaking at a conference organised by EFFA last month, Michael Flueh, DG Sanco’s head of unit, chemicals, contaminants and pesticides said that questions have been asked, especially from non-EU stakeholders, as to why the EU authorities cannot accept the evaluation of the on the outstanding flavourings.

“I would like to make it very clear the Commission takes into account Codex and JECFA, but our reference is EFSA,”​ he said.

Related topics: Policy, Flavours and colours

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