In October this year the EC announced a review of 11 authorized smoke flavorings after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2012 found raised and concerning levels, but the subsequent review found no major health issues.
The regulation centralizes a European Union list of authorized smoke flavoring primary products for use in or on foods and/or for the production of derived smoke flavorings, sets maximum levels and outlines best practice recommendations.
The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) voted on October 21, with a majority of EU member states in favor. Denmark and Greece voted against the regulation and Germany and Austria abstained. The regulation will kick into play 20 days after publication.
The director-general of the ESA Sebastian Emig said that regulatory issues surrounding the use of smoke flavorings has been one of industry’s biggest challenges in 2013.
“Smoke flavoring is an addition which is being used by potato chip and extruded snack companies… To give a ball park figure, which depends on different markets and volumes, smoke flavorings are used in about 10-20% of European snacks,” Emig told BakeryandSnacks.com.
EC investigation into smoke flavorings after EFSA opinion
EFSA has been investigating the exposure levels and safety of smoke flavorings in the European diet for a number of years.
It published its most recent opinions in July 2012 on the safety of two smoke flavoring primary products – SmokEz C-10 and SmokEz Enviro 23 – concluding that uses and use levels were of safety concern, based on 90-day toxicity studies.
After the filed recommendation, the European Commission decided to further investigate real exposure levels of smoke flavorings in the market.
As part of this, the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) – which has a strong data set – filed a pilot study report on smoke flavoring exposure in the Netherlands. It concluded that the highest exposure to smoke flavorings predominantly came from traditionally smoked foods like sausages and bacon, not food groups that are artificially flavored like potato chips, soups and sauces.
The ESA also compiled data from its members and advised the Commission, which Emig said indicated that exposure to smoke flavorings from snack foods is minimal.
“After this Dutch report, which has been shared with the EC, parliament and EFSA, finally the Commission has acknowledged that the smoke flavors in snacks represent a very small proportion in the diet. It was a great success for the entire industry,” he said.
“The regulation for smoke flavoring is definitely positive. Therefore smoke-flavored snacks are still going to be on the market...It won’t affect our industry,” he added.