FSA seeks views on impact of flavouring regulation

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The perspective of food manufacturers and other stakeholders on the costs and benefits of enforcement provisions for the new EU Regulation on food flavourings is being sought from the UK Food Standards Agency during a three month consultation phase.

The EU flavouring regulation 1334/2008 was adopted at the end of 2008 and is due to fully replace directive 88/388/EEC from 20 January 2011.

Inconsistencies in the regulation of flavourings and food ingredients with flavouring properties in the bloc along with differences regarding the application of maximum levels of certain biologically active principles (BAPs) which may be present in flavourings and food ingredients have created the need for uniform EU controls.

The controls aim to “ensure the free movement of safe and wholesome food, and to take into account the new scientific and technological developments for flavourings,” reports the FSA.

Natural compliance

One major change is the new and more detailed labelling requirements for natural flavours, and the reclassification of nature identical and artificial flavours as ‘flavouring substances’.

These new requirements need to be on labels and in documentation by the January 2011 enforcement date. However flavour firms’ regulatory and IT teams have been working on making sure the raw materials are classified for compliance for some time.

Labelling costs

The UK watchdog said it is now seeking an industry response on the familiarisation, enforcement and relabeling costs associated with the new regulation. “Information on the frequency at which businesses re-label products in this category is limited,” said the FSA.

However, it reports that discussions between it and stakeholders have indicated that a relabelling cycle of three years would be a reasonable assumption, and relabelling costs would tend to fall in the range of £1,500 to £3,000 per product.

There are new controls establishing maximum levels of BAPs in certain foods and the UK food agency comments that “in practice, the food manufacturing industry may well choose to move to the use of liquid flavouring extracts made from herbs and spices because the levels of BAPs will be more easily controlled.”

The FSA said that the deadline for receipt of industry comments on the proposals is 14 October 2010.

EFSA assessment

New flavouring substances proposed for foods, under the regulation, will have to go through a risk assessment procedure, and petitioners will have to supply data to allow the European Food Safety Authority to form an opinion.

EFSA is currently reassessing flavouring substances that are already in use in the EU, numbering around 2,800 in all. A definite list, as part of the new law, needs to be adopted by the end of 2010.

The FSA draft consultation document can be read here .