Flavourings

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Changed on: 09.03.2017

Flavourings and food additives with flavouring properties are added to foods in small quantities to give them a specific odour or flavour (e.g. strawberry flavour). Aromatic substances also play a major role in nutrition because flavours can have a considerable influence on dietary behaviour.

Flavours used in foods must be harmless from a health perspective and must not mislead consumers. The conditions for their production, safety, use and labelling are regulated on an EU-wide basis. The flavourings permitted across the EU – about 2,500 to date – are listed in a directory.

Flavourings and food additives with flavouring properties are added to foods in small quantities to give them a specific odour or flavour (e.g. strawberry flavour). Aromatic substances also play a major role in nutrition because flavours can have a considerable influence on dietary behaviour.

Flavours used in foods must be harmless from a health perspective and must not mislead consumers. The conditions for their production, safety, use and labelling are regulated on an EU-wide basis. The flavourings permitted across the EU – about 2,500 to date – are listed in a directory.

Natural Flavours

Natural Flavours

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Erdbeeren

 "Natural flavour", "natural flavourings", "natural strawberry flavour and other natural flavours": these and other similar generally accepted terms can be found on the ingredients list of many foods.

According to Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2008 on food flavourings, the term "natural" may only be used for a flavour if that flavour contains solely flavouring extracts and/or natural flavours. Flavour extracts are a mixture of specified substances with aromatic properties, obtained from natural resources such as spices, fruit, herbs, yeast, meat and vegetables.

Example – "Natural Strawberry Flavour"

There are a large number of products featuring the flavour claim "natural", which have the name of food (e.g. cheese) or food category (e.g. spices)  or a plant-based flavour carrier (strawberry) or animal-based flavour carrier (poultry) as the name of the flavour. The term "natural" may only be used in connection with this information, if the flavour compound is obtained from the source that it refers to entirely or at least to 95 percent of its weight.

As a result, "natural strawberry flavour" must be obtained to at least 95% from strawberries and the remaining proportion must also come from natural sources. If the strawberry flavour can be identified easily, but the weight percentage of the flavouring obtained from strawberries is below 95% and the remaining flavour comes from other natural flavourings, the expression "Natürliches Erdbeeraroma mit anderen natürlichen Aromen" (natural strawberry flavour with other natural flavours) must be used.

"Natural Flavour" without naming the source 

The expression “natural aroma” may be used exclusively if the flavour compound is obtained from different sources and if naming the sources would not describe the odour or flavour correctly, in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1334/2008 on food flavourings. One example would be a flavour made from the natural flavours of blackberries, apples and oranges, the odour and flavour of which does not reflect any of the three fruit types.

Smoke Flavourings

Smoke Flavourings

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Wood
Wood

Smoking is traditionally used to help preserve certain foods such as fish, meat and dairy products and the smoking process also changes the flavour of foods. As an alternative to traditional smoking, so-called smoked aromas can be added to a range of different foods to give a “smoked” flavour. They can also be added to foods which are not traditionally smoked, such as soups, sauces or confectionery.  

Certain types of wood are burnt under controlled conditions (temperature, ventilation etc.) to get smoked flavours. The chemical composition of smoke is very complex and depends, among other things, on the type of wood used, the smoking method, the water content in the wood and the temperature, as well as the oxygen levels during smoking. The smoke is discharged in water, fractionated and cleaned. The smoked flavourings are then made from the primary smoke condensates and primary tar fractions. They are processed directly with the foods or applied to the food surface by dipping or spraying. There are limits for undesired substances (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzo[a]pyrene).   

Smoked flavours used or intended for use throughout the European Union are tested for their safety by the EFSA.

The list of primary products for making smoked flavourings exclusively permitted in the European Union to be used as such in and on foods and/or for the production of derived smoked flavourings is defined in the Annex to Regulation (EU) No. 1331/2013. This list of the smoked flavourings permitted has been in effect since 1st January, 2014.  

Regulation (EU) No. 2065/2003 on smoked flavourings

Implementation Regulation (EU) No. 1321/2013 establishing the Union list of authorised smoked flavouring primary products 


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