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What additives may be found in food products?

The list of permissible food additives was expanded in May 2011. More changes should be expected following an EU review of the safety of food additives.

Under the Food Additives Regulation (1333/2008), a “food additive” is defined as “any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food.”
Certain substances that might otherwise meet the definition of a food additive are excluded from the legal regime applicable to food additives. These include, for example, “substances used in covering or coating materials, which do not form part of foods and are not intended to be consumed together with those foods,” as well as caseins and inulins.
In Poland, food products may contain only additives that are listed in the appendices to the regulation of the Minister of Health dated 22 November 2010. The regulation was amended effective 17 May 2011, expanding the list of permitted food additives to include such substances as rosemary extract, cassia gum and polyvinyl alcohol.
Any changes in the list of permissible food additives are critically important for companies in the food industry, because they may require or permit changes in the composition of food products. The Polish regulation defines what substances may be added to a given type of food product, and in what quantities. If no maximum safe level of an additive is defined, it may be used in whatever quantity is necessary in the recipe for the given product.
More changes in the list of permissible food additives should be expected, because the European Union is in the process of carrying out a multiyear review of the safety of using food additives. When the review is complete, a list of permissible food additives will be issued in the form of an EU regulation and thus become uniform and directly applicable throughout the EU.
Joanna Krakowiak, Life Science & Regulatory Law practice, Wardyński & Partners
This text was published on 10 June 2011 in the “Commercial Law Academy” series in Dziennik Gazeta Prawna