Additives

Changed on: 05.09.2017

Additives are added to foods for technological reasons during manufacturing, processing, packaging or storage. They are used as sweeteners, colouring or to extend the product’s shelf life.
Food additives must meet three requirements to be permitted by the EU: they must be harmless to health, required for technological reasons and must not mislead consumers.
The list of ingredients on pre-packed foods shows whether a food product contains a technically effective additive. The additive must be listed as an E number or by name. Additionally, the category name must also be shown. This name identifies the additive’s purpose informing consumers about its main effect on the product -- for example "Sweetener: saccharin (E 954)".

More information

Additives are added to foods for technological reasons during manufacturing, processing, packaging or storage. They are used as sweeteners, colouring or to extend the product’s shelf life.
Food additives must meet three requirements to be permitted by the EU: they must be harmless to health, required for technological reasons and must not mislead consumers.
The list of ingredients on pre-packed foods shows whether a food product contains a technically effective additive. The additive must be listed as an E number or by name. Additionally, the category name must also be shown. This name identifies the additive’s purpose informing consumers about its main effect on the product -- for example "Sweetener: saccharin (E 954)".

More information

Classification

Additives used in food additives, enzymes and flavourings are classified mainly according to their function in the food product:

  • antioxidants 
  • raising agents 
  • emulsifiers
  • colorants 
  • firming agents 
  • bulking agents
  • gelling agents
  • flavourings 
  • preservatives 
  • flour treatment agents
  • modified starch 
  • acidifying agents 
  • acidity regulators
  • anti-foaming agents
  • emulsifying salts 
  • stabilisers 
  • sweeteners 
  • propellants
  • anti-caking agents
  • coating agents
  • thickening agents

Food additives listed according to E numbers 

Legal Information

Legal Information


EU Regulation EC No. 1333/2008 standardises existing laws with regards to food additives, flavourings and enzymes at a Community level. It regulates authorisation procedures for food additives and the European list of food additives.

The following legal regulations have been introduced:

List of authorised food additives

Regulation EC No. 1333/2008 on food additives defines the list of food additives, enzymes and flavourings permitted in the EU and their conditions of use, published entirely in Regulation (EU) No. 1129/2011.

Safety Assessment

Safety Assessment

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducts a safety assessment before a new food additive is permitted on the Community market. This is also done when a substance is to be authorised for new purposes. Additionally, the EFSA reviews new scientific findings upon the European Commission’s request and also assesses changes in conditions of use and quantities of use. The EFSA has been examining all food additives since 2009, taking new scientific data into account, as the many additives were first approved many years ago.

An acceptable daily intake (ADI) is determined for each substance as part of the safety assessment, should the information available suffice. The ADI describes the amount of a substance that a human can ingest on a daily basis for his or her entire life, without noteworthy health risk.

EFSA Information on Food Additives

 

Surveillance

Surveillance

The use of additives in food products is subject to a continuous screening. The AGES Food Safety Division analyses and examines the correct content and combination of additives. Food categories analysed include non-alcoholic beverages, confectionary, pastry goods, snack products and meat products. AGES also tests additives and mixtures (e.g. baking powder) intended to be processed together with a food product, in addition to finished food products.

The examination results on food additives are not only used to find out whether laws are obeyed, but also help evaluate the intake of food additives in Austria.

 

Intake

Intake

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) commissioned AGES to evaluate the intake of food additives in the Austrian population (Aufnahme von Lebensmittelzusatzstoffen in Österreich – Stufe 2)* in 2014. The evaluation used data on food intake in Austria and the authorised maximum amounts for additive use.

The ingestion of most food additives (excluding colouring) by the average food consumer across all population groups in Austria lies below the respective accepted daily intake (ADI). The ADI describes the amount of a substance that a human can ingest on a daily basis for his or her entire life, without noteworthy health risk.

Food Colouring

The intake of most food colourings is below the given ADI value in both average and high intake groups. The main intake sources are mostly flavoured beverages and sweets.

However, the ADI values for the following colours were exceeded:

  • Quinoline yellow (E 104) across all population groups at a high intake or children at an average intake
  • β-apo-8‘-carotenal (E 160e) at an average and a high intake
  • Ponceau 4R or Cochineal (E 124) in adults at a high intake
  • Sunset yellow in all population groups at a high intake 
  • Lutein (E 161b) in all population groups at a high intake

Sweeteners

The intake amounts for sweeteners calculated for average and big eaters are below the respective ADI values across all population groups.

The highest intake was calculated for acesulfame potassium (E 950) and cyclamate (E 952) for big eaters. The percentage of the ADI value for these additives is used up to 50-65 % (E 950) and 46-61% (E 952).

Sweeteners are ingested mainly via calorie-reduced products or sugarless products. The main sources of intake are flavoured beverages and fruit nectars. Cocoa and chocolate products, as well as sweets, are also sources of ingestion.

Further Results

Details on the results can be found in the report "Aufnahme von Lebensmittelzusatzstoffen in Österreich – Stufe 2" (Intake of Food Additives in Austria – Stage 2).

The intake of food additives for the Austrian population (children, adults) in line with stages 2 and 3 was evaluated in the report "Aufnahme von Lebensmittelzusatzstoffen in Österreich – Ausgewählte Beispiele" (Intake of Food Additives in Austria – selected examples).

*Methods to evaluate intake quantities

The EU Commission describes methods for monitoring the intake of food additives in the Member States in its SCOOP Report. It calculates intake quantities in three stages.

  • Stage 1 connects theoretical data on food consumption with authorised maximum amounts for the use of the given additive.
  • Stage 2 uses national data on the entire population’s actual food consumption in connection with the authorised maximum amounts for the use of the given additive to evaluate intake.   
  • Stage 3 combines the actual food consumption and the actual quantities of the additive used for calculating national data.
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