The EU appears fond of lists these days. Not long ago we had a long list of permitted health claims. Now the European Commission has adopted legislation providing for a list of over 2,100 flavourings for use in food in the EU, plus another 400 which can be used pending evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
It is worth recalling how big but little known is the flavouring industry. Givaudan is the largest flavouring company in the world, employing 9,000 people in 45 countries. It is also a key enabler of successful industrial food processing.
Flavourings are used to alter the taste or smell of food and have a long, sometimes chequered, history of use in a wide variety of foods, such as soft drinks, confectionery, cereals, cakes and yoghurts. The simple act of eating is not normally associated with science but the Holy Grail of any processed food manufacturer is to create products that we crave and want, much to the detriment of our health, to eat time and time again. Givaudan understands that a critical way of achieving this is to get the flavour right and make no secret of this fact.
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 872/2012 adopts the list of flavouring substances provided for by Regulation (EC) No. 2232/96 and will apply from 22 April 2013. All flavourings not in the list will be prohibited after a phasing out period of 18 months.
Commission Regulation (EU) No. 873/2012 sets out transitional measures for other flavourings such as those made from non-food sources and will apply from 22 October 2012.
The list will also be available through an on-line database allowing consumers, food businesses and national authorities to easily identify which flavourings are authorised.
National enforcement authorities have the task of ensuring that food containing any unauthorised flavouring substance is withdrawn from the market and informing the European Commission and other Member States using the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.