Following a request from the European Commission to investigate the health implications of a raft of flavouring substances, the 18 member panel of scientific experts cleared 13 flavours on genotoxic and carcinogenic criteria.
But 37 of the flavourings up for evaluation lacked enough data for a full safety assessement: and one substance has been rejected for use in the food chain on safety grounds.
"Pentane-2,4-dione did not pass the initial steps in the screening process due to safety considerations.
The European Commission has since proposed that this substance be removed from the Register of flavouring substances used in or on foodstuffs," EFSA said in a statement yesterday.
Currently, Europe does not possess a positive list for flavouring substances, but instead a register of about 2500 substances.
But preparing for incoming legislation, scientists on the Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) panel have until July 2005 to assess the 1000 flavouring substances in the register that are in need of a safety evaluation, and that would feature on forthcoming positive list.
The panel findings will provide the European Commission with a positive list of flavouring substances for use in or on foods: the list will then have to be recognised by member states.
If the Commission opts to delete a substance from the list (for instance, pentane-2,4-dione), the member states will not be able to use them at a national level.
In principle, the positive list is due for completion this year.
The EFSA panel opinion issued this week dealt with flavouring group evaluation 7: Saturated and unsaturated aliphatic secondary alcohols, ketones and esters of secondary alcohols and saturated linear or branched-chain carboxylic acids from chemical group 5 (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1565/2000 of 18 July 2000).
Flavouring group evaluation 9 (FGE.09): Secondary alicyclic saturated and unsaturated alcohols, ketones and esters containing secondary alicyclic alcohols from chemical group 8 or a phenol carboxylic acid from chemical group 25.
And evaluation 11 for aliphatic dialcohols, diketones, and hydroxyketones from chemical group 10 (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1565/2000 of 18 July 2000).
The full evaluation can be accessed on the EFSA site.