EFSA reassesses European curcumin exposure levels

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Baked goods are a top source of curcumin for European children
Baked goods are a top source of curcumin for European children

Related tags: Soft drinks, Food additive

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reassessed exposure to curcumin and found consumption is lower than previously thought – although some children consume close to the acceptable daily intake (ADI).

Curcumin (E 100) is used as a food colouring, and half of adult exposure comes from its use in soft drinks. For children, the main dietary sources in Europe are baked goods, desserts, soft drinks, sauces and seasonings, and confectionery.

The EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) adopted a scientific opinion on curcumin in 2010. It estimated that children aged 1-10 may exceed the ADI at maximum levels of use, prompting this latest assessment.

Using data provided by industry and Member States, EFSA found that for adults, exposure estimates were lower than previously thought, below the ADI of 0-3 mg per kg of bodyweight at both the mean and high consumption levels.

“For children and toddlers, current exposure estimates were also lower compared to the previous opinion, both at the mean and at the high level,”​ EFSA said. “However, high level estimates were at the level of the ADI in these two population groups, with exceedance of the ADI in one survey each.”

Curcumin is a dicinnamoylmethane dye authorised as a food additive in the EU and was evaluated by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the EU Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1975.

The SCF was not able to determine an ADI, but found that curcumin was nevertheless acceptable for use in food. In 2004, JECFA allocated an ADI of 0-3 mg per kg of bodyweight.

ANS adopted this ADI in 2010 based on the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of a reproductive toxicity study.

EFSA’s assessment is available online here​.

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