The European Union’s recently adopted Food Improvement Agent Package (FIAP) should simplify and clarify the regulatory framework for additives (including colours and sweeteners), flavours and enzymes, international food and nutrition policy consultancy EAS has said.
Commenting on the revamp of the rules for additives, flavours and enzymes (termed ‘food improvement agents’ by the EU), EAS Food Law Manager Xavier Lavigne said the new package of EU-wide regulations being introduced could significantly cut down the time it takes for manufacturers to get these substances authorised for use in food and nutritional products.
The package was adopted on 18 November and should be published in the EU Official Journal by the end of the year. It replaces all existing rules with four new regulations – one for additives, including colours and sweeteners; a regulation for enzymes; one for flavours, and one for a common authorisation procedure.
“At present the legislative framework for these substances is divided between EU directives on different functional classes of additives, and others on specific purity criteria,” Mr Lavigne said. “Currently, there are different national rules for enzymes or flavours, and there can be significant differences from one EU Member State to another. The majority of these will be replaced by the new EU-wide rules. We will have a centralised EU authorisation procedure with rules that are directly applicable and don’t need to be nationally transposed. On the whole the FIAP should reduce the authorisation process from two-and-ahalf years to around eighteen months.”
Mr Lavigne pointed out key new aspects introduced in the FIAP, such as the general review clause stipulating that all food agents should be periodically revised; and the requirement for all products containing AZO colours to bear a specific labelling warning.
“We are currently carrying out a series of audits of products for companies, checking that the additives they have used are in line with the new legislative framework,” he said. “I would advise all companies to go through a similar process.”
The new authorisation procedure becomes applicable 20 days after the publication of the FIAP; the Regulations on Additives and Enzymes will apply from January 2010, and the Flavours Regulation in January 2011.