Identification and Coding

Food additives are identified with their structure and the chemical name that follows the general rules of chemical nomenclature. In the European Union, each additive, if authorized, is preceded by the letter “E” as well as its chemical name and its specific and unique number.

Flavorings are identified with FL number, chemical name, CAS number, JECFA number, and CoE number. They may contain food additives permitted by Regulation EU 1333/2008 or other food ingredients added for technological purposes such as for their storage, standardization, dilution, or dissolution and stabilization.

In the United States, according to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the recognition of the safety of a food additive can be done in three ways:

  • 1) Approval by the FDA, taking into account the evidence submitted by applicant
  • 2) General recognition of safety for their intended use GRAS (determined in accordance with §170.30)
  • 3) Prior sanction, meaning an explicit approval granted with respect to use of a substance in food prior to September 6, 1958, by the Food and Drug Administration or the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Meat Inspection Act

Increasing attention for healthy foodstuffs is in vogue; also in the United States, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reviews the risk assessment for food safety of all food additives actually in use. On the FDA website we can find this declaration:

In the interest of the public health, such articles which have been considered in the past by the Food and Drug Administration to be safe under the provisions of section 402(a)(1), or to be generally recognized as safe for their intended use, or to have prior sanction or approval, or not to be food additives under the conditions of intended use, must be reexamined in the light of current scientific information and current principles for evaluating the safety of food additives if their use is to be continued.

The development of new technologies, such as nanotechnology and microencapsulation, has made possible the use of additives with the particular physical characteristics, which allows benefits such as longer shelf life, appearance, and texture. These methods sometimes allow a significant reduction of the quantity and types of substances added to foodstuffs and, apparently, should be to the benefit of the consumer. But these substances have different physical characteristics compared to the regular ones and scientific evidence is still insufficient to carry out a solid impact assessment of these new ingredients on the human organism.

 
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