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Safe food additives

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Safe food additives

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 — food additives

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

  • It replaces previous European Union (EU) legislation by bringing all types of food additives* under one legal act.
  • It provides lists of:
    • approved additives;
    • conditions on their use and labelling.
  • It also simplifies the authorisation procedure.

KEY POINTS

  • Only EU-approved additives may be sold and used in food.
  • To be approved, a food additive must not pose any health risks or mislead consumers. It must meet a reasonable need that cannot be achieved in any other way.
  • An additive must provide benefits for consumers. These include:
    • preserving food’s nutritional quality;
    • helping in its manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packing, transport or storage;
    • meeting special dietary needs.
  • Specific conditions apply to sweeteners and colourings.
  • Additives should be used at the lowest level needed to achieve the desired effect. This level must take account of an acceptable daily intake and the needs of special groups of consumers (e.g. people with allergies).
  • Additives should not, as a rule, be used in:
    • unprocessed foods;
    • foods for infants and young children.
  • Additives, whether for sale to the final consumer or not, must meet clear labelling requirements, such as providing the name and/or E-number (for instance, sunset yellow colouring is E 110).
  • The legislation does not apply to the following substances, unless they are used as food additives:
    • processing aids, i.e. a substance used to process raw materials;
    • substances used to protect plants and plant products;
    • nutrients and added to food;
    • water treatment substances.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 20 January 2010.

BACKGROUND

Most evaluations of additives date back to the 1980s and 1990s. They are now being re-evaluated. This process should be completed by 2020.

After that, the European Commission may propose changes to the current usage conditions, or remove some additives from the approved list.

For more information, see:

* KEY TERMS

Food additives: substances used in foods for different reasons, e.g. to sweeten them, provide colour or prolong shelf life.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives (OJ L 354, 31.12.2008, pp. 16-33)

Successive amendments to the annexes to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Commission Regulation (EU) No 257/2010 of 25 March 2010 setting up a programme for the re-evaluation of approved food additives in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives (OJ L 80, 26.3.2010, pp. 19-27)

Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 of 9 March 2012 laying down specifications for food additives listed in Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 83, 22.3.2012, pp. 1-295).

See consolidated version.

last update 19.09.2016

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