52 THE USE OF FOOD ADDITIVES AND PROCESSING AIDS – Food and Drink – Good Manufacturing Practice, 7th Edition



The manufacturer should satisfy him/herself that the use of a processing aid serves an essential functional need in manufacture, and that the inclusion of any additive serves an essential technical need or contributes significantly to customer quality requirements, or both, and does not present a food safety risk. The use of any food additive or a processing aid must comply with the laws and specific regulations of the country for which the food is intended.

Food Additives

52.1 Governments and their expert advisers must consider both the toxicological evaluation and the need for the substance in question, and establish safety‐in‐use criteria before approving an additive and review such approval on a continuing basis. These principles already apply in the United Kingdom (UK) and according to their legislation in many other countries. Food additives are substances that are intentionally added to foods in order to perform a certain function, such as to sweeten, preserve, colour, influence consistency, stabilise and extend shelf life. European Union (EU) legislation defines a food additive as ‘any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by‐products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods’.

52.2 The use of an additive must not mislead consumers as to the quality of a product. This necessitates appropriate labelling that includes information about additives present given in accordance with the regulations of the country for which the food is intended. It also implies that the labelling and advertising language or pictorial representation should not be used to create a false or misleading impression.

52.3 Additives should not be used to permit or to disguise the effect of faulty processing.

52.4 Regulation EC No. 1333/20081 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives sets out the rules on food additives, providing definitions, an outline of conditions of use, and labelling guidelines. Annex I addresses the technological functions of food additives, Annex II provides a list of food additives approved for use in food additives and conditions of use, Annex III lists food additives approved for use in food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings, and their conditions of use, Annex IV addresses traditional foods for which certain Member States may continue to prohibit the use of certain categories of food additives and Annex V gives additives labelling information for certain food colours. The list of authorised food additives approved for use in food additives, enzymes and flavourings can be found in the Annex of Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1130/20112 of 11 November 2011 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives by establishing an EU list of substances approved for use such as food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings and nutrients. Food additives must comply with specifications that include information that adequately identifies the food additive, including origin, and the acceptable criteria of purity. Commission Regulation (EU) No. 231/20123 of 9 March 2012 lays down specifications for food additives listed in Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council Text. Further guidance documents are provided by the EU online and can be downloaded.4 An additive database is also provided on the EU food additives website that serves as a tool to inform manufacturers about the food additives approved for use and their conditions of use.5

52.5 In the UK and other EU Member States, where a maximum level of usage of any substance is specified in the appropriate directives and regulations, the level must not be exceeded, but, additionally, the level of usage of a specific substance should not exceed the lowest level that produces the required effect when used efficiently in good manufacturing practice (GMP). It is important to note that some additives, such as sulphur dioxide, are also classed as allergens, which require specific labelling if they are present in a food product (see Chapter 8). In the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food and Feed Law Guide6 identifies the current EU and national legislation with regard to food additives. The FSA has also produced a document called Food Additives Legislation Guidance to Compliance (October 2015),7 which covers both food additives and processing aids. The FSA has a designated site which provides details on additives (see https://www.food.gov.uk/science/additives). Processing aids, including filtration aids and release agents are excluded from the scope of Regulation No. 1333/2008.

Processing Aids

52.6 In the UK there is no national legislation on processing aids nor a legally defined list of approved processing aids. The term ‘processing aid’ means ‘any substance which: is not consumed as a food by itself; is intentionally used in the processing of raw materials, foods or their ingredients, to fulfil a certain technological purpose during treatment or processing; and may result in the unintentional but technically unavoidable presence in the final product of residues of the substance or its derivatives provided they do not present any health risks and do not have any technological effect on the final product.’7 It is important to consider processing aids that are derived from materials that can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, for example isinglass derived from fish and used as a clarification aid in brewing and wine production (see Chapter 8).