Scientific Opinion on re-evaluation of copper complexes of chlorophylls (E 141(i)) and chlorophyllins (E 141(ii)) as food additives


Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2015;13(6):4151 [60 pp.].
Panel Members
Fernando Aguilar, Riccardo Crebelli, Alessandro Di Domenico, Birgit Dusemund, Maria Jose Frutos, Pierre Galtier, David Gott, Ursula Gundert-Remy, Claude Lambré, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Oliver Lindtner, Peter Moldeus, Alicja Mortensen, Pasquale Mosesso, Agneta Oskarsson, Dominique Parent-Massin, Ivan Stankovic, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Rudolf Antonius Woutersen, Matthew Wright and Younes Maged.

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the former Working Group “A” Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (2011–2014) and the members of the Standing Working Group on the re-evaluation of food colours, Fernando Aguilar, Riccardo Crebelli, Alessandro Di Domenico, Maria Jose Frutos, Pierre Galtier, David Gott, Claude Lambré, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Agneta Oskarsson, Jeanne Stadler, Paul Tobback, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen and Rudolf Antonius Woutersen, for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and EFSA staff members: Federica Lodi, Ana Maria Rincon and Alexandra Tard for the support provided to this scientific opinion. The ANS Panel wishes to acknowledge all European competent institutions, Member State bodies and other organisations that provided data for this scientific output.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
European Commission
Question Number
9 June 2015
Published in the EFSA Journal
30 June 2015
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

Copper complexes of chlorophylls (Cu-chlorophylls) (E 141(i)) and copper complexes of chlorophyllins (Cu-chlorophyllins) (E 141(ii)) are prepared from sources that could not be regarded as edible plant material or food (grass, lucerne, nettle) for humans. Considering their manufacturing process, these compounds cannot be regarded as natural compounds. The Panel noted that very few studies have been conducted using Cu-chlorophylls, which hampered assessment of their safety. In contrast to (non-copper) chlorophylls and chlorophyllins, the available data showed that some components of Cu-chlorophyllins can be absorbed and distributed systematically. Given the differences in purity, chemical properties, stability and manufacturing process, the Panel considered that it was not possible to use Cu-chlorophyllins (E 141(ii)) data for read-across for Cu-chlorophylls (E 141(i)). The available data were considered inadequate by the Panel to evaluate the genotoxic potential of Cu-chlorophyllins. The Panel considered that, given the discrepancies and uncertainties in the available data concerning the carcinogenic potential of Cu-chlorophyllins, further and adequate evaluation of the possible carcinogenicity of Cu-chlorophyllins was needed. Finally, the Panel concluded that reliable data on absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME), genotoxicity, (chronic) toxicity, carcinogenicity, and reproductive and developmental toxicity of Cu-chlorophylls (E 141(i)) and Cu-chlorophyllins (E 141(ii)) were lacking. Therefore, their safety of use as food additives cannot be assessed and the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) should be withdrawn. In addition, the Panel considered that the specifications should be updated to include information on the non-chlorophyll components of E 141(i), which may represent up to 90 % of the extract, together with the precise identification of the various compounds that are present in the food additives E 141(i) and E 141(ii).

copper complexes of chlorophylls, E 141(i), copper complexes of chlorophyllins, E 141(ii), food colours
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