The European Commission has published the new 'EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database', which includes some registers and information on the rules applied in the EU to ingredients, additives and flavorings intended for use in food and feed preparations, as well as nutrition and health claims relating to food. (1)
The information contained in the they offer a useful orientation, without however having legal value. The effective compliance of food and feed produced and/or imported and/or marketed in the EU must therefore be verified on the updated texts of the regulations to which reference is made, as published in the Official Journal.
1) EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database
Lo EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database summarizes the rules applied to three macro-categories of substances subject to specific EU rules, in addition to the regulation of health claims:
1) feed additives,
2) food additives,
3) food flavourings,
4) health claims.
The system allows you to consult, in each area, the normative references of interest and the documents published by the European Commission and/or by EFSA on the related subjects, where available.
Inclusion of new additives, flavors or health claims is subject to specific authorization procedures, to be submitted to the Commission through the European Submission Food Chain Platform (ESFC Platform). (2)
2) Feed additives
The new updates and replaces the previous 'Community register of feed additives' (3), which the Commission had already published in ways that were not as easy to read. The registry is now structured as follows.
2.1) Categories/functional groups of feed additives
Feed additives are divided into 5 categories (ie technological, organoleptic, nutritional, zootechnical, coccidiostatic and histomonostatic additives). The first four categories are divided into groups, with their functions and EU authorization codes.
Detail information in relation to each of the feed additives authorized in the EU, including the animal species to which they can be administered, are easily accessible by selecting the relevant references.
2.2) Status of authorization
Lo status of authorization must be checked beforehand, in view of placing zootechnical additives, coccidiostats and histomonostats on the EU market. Authorizations are valid for ten years and renewal applications must be submitted at least 1 year before expiry.
The register it also indicates the forecasts for cancellation from the register, where the Commission has established that the additive is no longer safe under the proposed conditions of use, or where an application for renewal has not been submitted within the established deadlines, and will therefore have to be withdrawn upon expiry of the authorization term.
3) Food additives, status
The list of food additives includes only additives which may be used in the manufacture of foods, excluding those which may be used in the preparation of food additives, enzymes, flavors and nutrients. (4) It EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database ranks food additives by:
– group (from I to IV) or number E,
- International Numbering System for Food Additives (INS),
– name of the food additive, or of the group.
It is thus possible to identify the food additives that belong to each group, check the foods on which each additive can be used and under what conditions, but also search by food category and food additives allowed.
3.1) Food additives, reassessment by EFSA. Status quo
EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database it also allows you to consult the status re-evaluation of the food safety by EFSA of the 315 food additives authorized before 20 January 2009. (5) At present:
- 230 food additives have already been re-evaluated by EFSA in 126 scientific opinions,
– 85 food additives (including some sweeteners and other additives other than colors, preservatives, antioxidants, aspartame, glutamates and silicon dioxide) are still awaiting re-evaluation.
4) Food flavourings
The classification of aromas food in the EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database follows the model used for food additives, also taking into account the specific codes and requirements for each chemical name of the flavoring substances, in the registers of:
– CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service),
– FL (FLAVIS, EU flavoring information system),
– CoE (Council of Europe),
– JECFA (Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives). (6)
However, they are not available updated data provided by the industry for the purpose of EFSA's re-evaluation of flavorings currently on the market.
5) Nutrition and health claims
The 'Community Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods' (7) includes:
a) nutrition claims authorized in the EU and related conditions of application, (8)
b) nod to nutrient profiles that the European Commission should have adopted 14 years ago, without however to date providing for it,
c) health claims authorized in the EU and related application conditions;
d) list of authorization requests for health claims rejected and the reason for the rejection.
Health claims authorized on the basis of data protected by industrial property are recorded in a separate Annex to the register, with details on:
– date of authorization and name of the original applicant,
– reference to data recognized as protected by industrial property and consequent limitations of use;
– possible time limits, where the Commission has granted a temporary authorisation.
5.1) Health claims, the EU register
- health claims can be searched in EU Food and Feed Information Portal Database based on:
- status (authorized and not),
a) generic health claims,
b) health claims which include a confidential data protection request,
c) indications on the reduction of the risks of illness,
d) indications relating to the state of health and development of children,
– EFSA scientific opinion,
– reference legislation (regulation, authorization or rejection decision),
– possible concession of protection of proprietary data. (9)
The current state, the list contains 2.359 entries, of which only 2 register proprietary data protection. Of the overall list, 269 health claims have been authorized (11,40%) and 2.090 (88,60%) are not. As proof of the unsuitability of the implementation rules (Reg. EC 353/08) with respect to the objectives set in the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (EC) No 1924/06. (10)
6) Food enzymes, still waiting for a positive list
Food enzymes are the only substances – within the 'Food Improvement Agents Package' (Reg. EC No 1331,1332,1333,1334/08) – still without a positive list of substances allowed in the EU. Pending its publication, which postulates the complete evaluation by EFSA (expected by the end of 2023), Belgium has developed the Food Enzyme Database (FEDA. See notes 11,12).
Il Food Enzyme Database Belgian collects all publicly available information on food enzymes (e.g. public parts of the dossier authorisation, EFSA scientific opinions) that can be introduced into the EU, to encourage reasoned decisions by competent authorities and laboratories. The list today considers 320 applications for food enzymes, of which 130 are derived from genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs), in relation to 98 enzymes from 97 microorganisms of which 20 are GMMs.
6.1) Food enzymestransitional provisions
Waiting for publication of the EU list of food enzymes authorised, the European Commission established the 'register' of applications submitted in the period 11.11.2011 – 11.03.15. On a transitional basis, the use of the enzymes invertase and lysozyme, urease and beta-glucanase as food additives in food and wine was authorised. In addition to applying, in a transition that has now been going on for 15 years, the national provisions still in force (13,14,15).
7) Provisional conclusions
Il Food and Feed Information Portal Database it is a valuable work of compiling and making available the data useful for verifying the status of food additives, feed additives, flavourings, nutrition claims, health claims.
Criticalities rather relate to the burdens on businesses, start-up, research institutions – and on the same European Food Safety Authority – to present and evaluate appropriate dossier of authorisation, in a regime so stringent that it severely hampers innovation and its potentially beneficial impacts on human and animal nutrition and health.
The observations already expressed regarding the unsustainability of the are recalled EU food law with regard, in particular, to natural ingredients with technological functions (e.g. preservatives, antioxidants. See note 10). In addition to the diabolical test still required to validate the functional health claims. (16)
Dario Dongo and Andrea Adelmo Della Penna
(3) Established under Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 on feed additives
(4) The list of food additives included in the is reported in Annex II to reg. (EC) no. 1333/2008, established pursuant to reg. (EC) no. 1129/2011. Food additives used for other functions are instead listed in Annex III to reg. (EC) no. 1333/2008, established by reg. (EC) no. 1130/2011. These regulations definitively repealed the previous transitional provisions in terms of food additives and, therefore, any national provisions are no longer valid
(6) The list of flavoring substances is given in Annex I to reg. (EC) 1334/2008, on the basis of what is defined by reg. (EU) 872/2012 and subsequent amendments
(7) See regulation (EC) no. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims, article 20
(9) Regulation (EC) 1924/2006, article 13 (paragraphs 1,5) and article 14(1), letters 'a', 'b'
(10) See last paragraph by Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Horizon4Proteins. Protein research compared with EU policies and rules. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.5.23
(11) Deckers et al. (2021). Food Enzyme Database (FEDA): a web application gathering information about food enzyme preparations available on the European market. Databases 0:1-7, https://doi.org/10.1093/database/baab060
(12) See https://feda.sciensano.be
(13) European Commission. Register of food enzymes to be considered for inclusion in the Union List. 28.04.20, https://food.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2020-06/fs_food-improvement-agents_enzymes_register.pdf
(14) The status of food enzyme evaluations can be consulted on the EFSA Open Platform https://open.efsa.europa.eu/questions?authorisationType=Food%20Enzymes&foodDomains=Food%20Improvement%20Agents
(15) By way of example, in Italy the use of amylolytic and beta-glucanase enzymes in the manufacture of beer is regulated by Ministerial Decree no. 682/1996
(16) Dario Dongo. Health claims on botanicals, the Court of Justice clarifies. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 13.10.20