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Additives other than authorised colours and sweeteners

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Additives other than authorised colours and sweeteners

Legislation on additives, other than colours and sweeteners, which are permitted in foodstuffs, and their conditions of use, is harmonised in order to ensure consumer protection and the free movement of foodstuffs. The intention is also to apply stricter rules for such additives in the case of food preparations for infants and young children.


European Parliament and Council Directive 95/2/EC of 20 February 1995 on food additives other than colours and sweeteners [See amending acts].


Directive 95/2/EC 1. Directive 95/2/EC is a specific Directive under the framework directive 89/107/EEC concerning food additives authorised for use in foodstuffs.

Only additives complying with specifications adopted after consultation of the Scientific Committee for Food may be used in foodstuffs.

The Directive lays down which substances are regarded as food additives, the foodstuffs in which these additives may be used (see annex) and their conditions of use.

The presence of a food additive is permitted

  • in a compound foodstuff where the use of the additive is permitted in one of its ingredients;
  • in a foodstuff intended solely for the preparation of a compound foodstuff complying with the provisions of this Directive.

Within three years of the Directive entering into force, Member States must set up systems for the regular monitoring of consumption and use of food additives and inform the Commission of their findings.

Within five years of the Directive entering into force the Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council on developments in the market for food additives, review the conditions of use and propose modifications where necessary.

The six annexes to the Directive provide information on the following aspects:

  • food additives generally permitted,
  • the number of additives which may be used in foodstuffs,
  • conditionally permitted preservatives and antioxidants (i.e. "sorbates, benzoates et p-hydroxybenzoates", "sulphur dioxide and sulphites", "other preservatives" and "other antioxidants"),
  • other permitted additives,
  • permitted carriers and carrier solvents,
  • food additives permitted in foods for infants and young children.

Council Directives 64/54/EEC (preservatives), 70/357/EEC (antioxidants), 74/329/EEC (emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents) and 83/463/EEC (temporary measures for the designation of certain ingredients in the labelling of foodstuffs) are repealed.

Directive 96/85/EC 9. This Directive authorises the use of Eucheuma seaweed as a new food additive.

Directive 98/72/EC 10. This Directive makes various additions and changes to the text of Directive 95/2/EC and its annexes.

Directive 2001/5/EC 11. This Directive approves the use of some new additives which had been authorised on a temporary basis at national level, i.e. propane, butane and iso-butane.

Directive 2003/52/EC 12. With a view to protecting human health, this Directive suspends temporarily authorisation of the use of the food additive E 425 konjac both in jelly mini-cups and in any other jelly confectionery because it has been found to be dangerous.

Directive 2003/114/EC 13. This Directive authorises a new food additive (hydrogenated poly-1-decene) which has been found to be suitable for human consumption. This product will be used as a glazing agent for confectionery and as a protective layer on dried fruit.

The Directive also authorises new applications for certain food additives which are already authorised, and subjects others to restrictions.

It is intended in particular to harmonise legislation within the Community on the additives necessary for storage and use of flavourings.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 95/2/EC



OJ L 61 of 18 March 1995

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 96/85/EC



OJ L 86 of 28.03.1997

Directive 98/72/EC


04.05.2000 Authorisation of trade in products complying with the Directive.04.11.2000 Prohibition of trade in products not complying with the Directive.

OJ L 295 of 04.11.1998

Directive 2001/5/EC



OJ L 55 of 24.02.2001

Directive 2003/52/EC



OJ L 178 of 17.07.2003

Directive 2003/95/EC



OJ L 283 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2004/45/EC



OJ L 113 of 20.04.2004


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners and Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs [COM(2004) 650 final]

This proposal revises certain current authorisations, such as:

  • nitrite and nitrate.It amends the maximum levels permitted so that they are measured not in terms of the maximum residual amounts but in terms of the initial added amount. It is the initial amount which can have the effect of preventing the development of the bacteria that causes botulism.The Proposal for a Directive maintains the former approach only for certain traditionally manufactured meat products;
  • p-Hydroxybenzoates.The additives E 216 propyl p-hydroxybenzoate and E 217 sodium propyl p-hydroxybenzoate would no longer be regulated by Directive 95/2/EC. The use of p-hydroxybenzoates will be prohibited in liquid dietary food supplements;
  • Any gel-forming additive used in confectionery products similar to jelly mini-cups will be prohibited. This type of product involves the same risk of choking as the mini-cups, which were prohibited in 2004;
  • Erythritol.It will be permitted to use this type of polyol for sweetening purposes;
  • 4-Hexylresorcinol.This product will be used instead of sulphites to prevent melanosis (black spots) from forming on crustaceans during storage. The maximum residue level shall be set at 2 mg/kg;
  • Soybean hemicellulose.This will be authorised for use as an emulsifier, thickener, stabiliser and anti-caking agent;
  • Ethyl cellulose.This will be authorised for use in all foodstuffs as a carrier for food additives;
  • Extension of the authorisation of the use of food additives such as sodium hydrogen carbonate in sour milk cheese, and sorbates and benzoates in crustaceans.E 551 silicon dioxide is permitted as a carrier. Additives will also be permitted in traditional Hungarian products.

Specific purity criteria

Directive 96/77/EC [Official Journal L 339 of 30.12.1996]

Commission Directive of 2 December 1996 laying down specific purity criteria on food additives other than colours and sweeteners.

This Directive repeals Directives 65/66/EEC and 78/664/EEC. The Annex contains an initial list of purity criteria in respect of a number of food additives other than the colours and sweeteners covered by Directive 95/2/EC.

Amended by the following measures:

The following Directives take account of the specifications and analytical techniques relating to additives appearing in the Codex Alimentarius, as laid down by the Joint FAO-WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).

Directive 2004/45/EC This Directive tightens the purity criteria applicable to carrageenans (E 407) and processed eucheuma seaweed (E 407 a).

Directive 2003/95/EC This Directive adapts the purity criteria applicable to sodium nitrate (E 251) and beta-cyclodextrin (E 459). It also reduces the presence of ethylene oxide to below the detection limit.

Directive 2002/82/EC [Official Journal L 292 of 28.10.2002]

This Directive supplements Directive 96/77/EC laying down purity criteria for a series of substances already authorised for use in foods by Directive 95/2/EC but for which purity criteria were not yet established.

Directive 2001/30/EC [Official Journal L 146 of 31.05.2001] This Directive supplements Directive 2000/63/EC laying down purity criteria for the remaining food additives covered by Directive 95/2/EC.

Directive 2000/63/EC [Official Journal L277 of 30.10.2000] This Directive amends the purity criteria for butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are specified in Annex I to Directive 96/77/EC, to take account of technical progress. It also supplements Annex II to Directive 96/77/EC by establishing purity criteria for the other additives mentioned in Directive 95/2/EC.

Directive 98/86/EC [Official Journal L 334 of 09.12.1998] This Directive supplements the list given in Directive 96/77/EC by specifying purity criteria in respect of other additives. In this connection, it takes account of the specifications and analytical techniques relating to additives laid down by the Joint FAO-WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and published in the Codex Alimentarius.

Last updated: 16.12.2005