Additives

ifp Institut für Produktqualität offers service testing of food additive as well as labelling and regulatory consulting. For more information on food additives see the following pages:

Additives in the food industry

Additives are substances that are added to foods in small amounts in order to achieve or improve particular properties. Additives are used to create a positive effect on the manufacturing process, storage, processing or on the product’s properties.

Without additives the range of different foods available today would be much smaller. Salt, vinegar, smoke, herbs, honey and sugar are used to flavour, colour, and preserve foods at the same time. Gelling sugar, which contains pectin, makes jams and marmalades easily spreadable. Emulsifiers make margarine more easily spreadable, thickening agents help blancmange become firmer, and colouring gives food an appealing colour.

The following substances are not classified as additives:

  • aromas
  • substances for coatings, casings, that are not consumed with the food
  • processing aids (without technological effect on the final product)
  • modified starch
  • and many more

Some 320 additives have been approved within the EU. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) examines every additive used within Europe. Scientific advice and information is provided, for example, by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin. In addition, the international Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) carries out safety assessments.

Only additives that have been evaluated and approved as technologically necessary by the EU Commission are assigned an E number.

Labelling

Identification of additives on the food packaging is done in accordance with § 6 (4) No. 2 of the German Food Labelling Act (LMKV) as well as according to the latest EU regulation on the provision of food information  by stating the functional class (except for physically or enzymatically modified starches) followed by the trade name or E number. A “functional class” is one of the categories of additives listed in Annex I of Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 according to their technological function in foodstuffs.

Example:

  • Cyclamate
  • Functional class: sweetener
  • Designation: cyclamate
  • E number: E 952
  • Identified on the list of ingredients as: sweetener (cyclamate) or E952 (sweetener)

Legislation

Since January 20th, 2010 Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 has applied to all specifications on additives that are used for technological purposes. The core of the EU Regulation is Annex II, the "Community list of food additives approved for use in foods and conditions of use”. A “ban with permit reservation” applies to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008. This means that only the additives that are listed in the Community lists may be used for the purposes mentioned there (positive lists).

Transition periods for the specifications in Annex II apply to food that was lawfully put on the market before June 1st, 2013, i.e. for which the use of additives complied with ZZulV (German Ordinance on Food Additive Approval), and which do not comply with the requirements of Annex II of Regulation (EC) 1333/2008. These may still be sold before their best-before-date expires.

So far no EU regulations have been issued concerning the labelling of additives in bulk goods or in food offered on menus.

As long as this is the case, the German Ordinance on Food Additive Approval (ZzulV) continues to apply.