The flavour, 3-acetyl-2,5-dimethylthiophene, is not widely used – EFSA estimates that total annual use in the European Union is just 2.3 kg. However, in assessing the flavouring’s safety, the food safety body found safety concerns in both in vitro and in vivo studies in mice.
“While no exposure assessment has been carried out by EFSA, the possible risk to consumers who may have been exposed to this substance in food is expected to be very small,” EFSA said in a document.
The substance also occurs naturally in boiled and cooked meats, and is produced as a flavouring by a small number of manufacturers and used in a limited number of foods, it said.
The EU adopted regulation on flavouring substances in October last year, with the aim of providing a list of flavouring substances that may be used in food in the EU. Any flavouring substances not in the list will be prohibited after a phasing out period.
At the time of announcing the list, 2100 flavouring substances had already been assessed and included on the list by EFSA, along with JECFA (the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives), the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and the Council of Europe (CoE) – and another 400 are expected to have been assessed by 2015.