Safety assessment of the active substances citric acid and sodium hydrogen carbonate for use in active food contact materials

ood contact materials;active and intelligent materials;citric acid (E330, CAS No 77-92-9, FCM substance No 139);sodium hydrogen carbonate (E500ii, CAS No 144-55-8, FCM substance No 21);CO2 emitter
First published in the EFSA Journal
21 July 2016
21 June 2016
Scientific Opinion


This opinion of the EFSA Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF Panel) deals with the safety assessment of the active substances citric acid, CAS No 77-92-9 and FCM substance No 139, and sodium hydrogen carbonate, CAS No 144-55-8 and FCM substance No 21, intended to be used as a carbon dioxide (CO2) generator in trays of fresh poultry meat at refrigeration temperature. The two substances are activated by contact with meat exudate, whereupon they react together and release carbon dioxide. The active substances are already authorised for use in plastic materials and articles in contact with food (Regulation (EU) No 10/2011) and as food additives (Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011). In this application, they are not intended to transfer into the food. The substances are physically separated from the poultry meat to prevent direct contact. In addition, according to the test results provided, the pack design prevents any return of meat exudate. Backflow of the exudate has to be prevented, as this could cause an addition of sodium hydrogen carbonate, citric acid or the reaction product sodium citrate to the fresh poultry meat, which is not permitted for this food type according to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 and Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011. Considering the nature of the substances and their intended reaction product carbon dioxide, along with the absence of the formation and any consequential migration of unwanted by-products, the CEF Panel concluded that the active substances, citric acid and sodium hydrogen carbonate, used to generate CO2 in the atmosphere of packed fresh poultry meat do not raise a safety concern to the consumer. There should be neither direct contact of the active substances with the fresh poultry meat nor any backflow of exudate that could bring the active substances into contact with the food.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Claudia Bolognesi, Laurence Castle, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Karl-Heinz Engel, Paul Fowler, Roland Franz, Konrad Grob, Rainer Gürtler, Trine Husøy, Sirpa Kärenlampi, Wim Mennes, Maria Rosaria Milana, André Penninks, Vittorio Silano, Andrew Smith, Maria de Fátima Tavares Poças, Christina Tlustos, Detlef Wölfle, Holger Zorn and Corina-Aurelia Zugravu
Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids
fip [at]
EFSA Journal 2016;14(7):4529
Question Number
On request from
Ministerio de Sanidad Servicios Sociales e Igualdad - Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición, Dirección Ejecutiva, Spain