The European Commission has passed a regulation permitting the use of a food additive commonly used in beverages to print celebratory messages on hard confectionery after a request from Mars Chocolate UK.
Mars made the request so that it could print higher quality personalised images on M&Ms using glycerol esters of wood rosins (E 445) as an emulsifier.
Its request came following research that found E 445 as an emulsifier in water based inks could improve the mixing and integrity of the ingredients giving a more homogenous preparation with strong fixing and coverage properties.
The research found this could lead to higher quality text and higher resolution pictures on hard-coated confectionery compared to current food colour preparations used for printing texts, logos and pictures.
Commission green light
The Commission’s approval came in EU Regulation No 472/2012 issued yesterday.
The regulation permits the technique for personalised and/or promotional products that are consumed in small quantities for a restricted number of occasions, such as weddings and birthdays.
A 2001 report from the Commission on Dietary Food Additive Intake in the European Union found that E 445 needed no further examination because its use in food did not exceed the acceptable daily intake established by the Scientific Committee for Food in 1992.
On this basis the Commission did not consult the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the current regulation as it said E 445 used for printing on hard-confectionery did not pose a health risk.
Glycerol ester of wood rosin is sometimes used as an alternative to brominated vegetable oil in citrus-flavoured soft drinks.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Canada Dry pineapple flavour, PepsiCo’s Gatorade and Coca Cola’s Fanta Orange are among the soft drinks that use the food additive.
Glycerol ester of wood rosin also has applications as a component of chewing gum bases.
Mars has a series of websites under the name MyM&Ms, which allows consumers to purchase customised M&M’s online for occasions such as weddings, birthday’s and christening.
It currently runs the service in the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.