EFSA publishes first four opinions on smoke flavourings

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the first in a series of opinions on flavouring products which are added to foods to give a “smoked” flavour. EFSA’s CEF Panel[1] concluded that the use of the flavouring product Smoke Concentrate 809045 was not of safety concern, however, it expressed safety concerns over the use of two other flavouring products – Unismoke and Zesti Smoke Code 10. These findings were based on exposure estimates for all of the smoke flavourings which are used in the European Union, which were also published in a separate opinion today.

Klaus-Dieter Jany, the Chair of the CEF Panel, said: “With regard to Unismoke and Zesti Smoke Code 10, the Panel concluded that there were insufficient margins of safety between estimated exposure to the two flavouring products and intake levels above which they may cause adverse health effects. However, the Panel concluded that the margins of safety for Smoke Concentrate 809045 were wide enough. In all three cases, the Panel considered that studies were sufficient to remove concerns over genotoxicity – in other words, damage to the genetic material of cells.”

EFSA’s exposure estimates – which looked at cumulative exposure to the different flavouring products in different categories of food, based on proposed uses and use levels supplied by the manufacturers – indicated that exposure mainly arises:

  • for Unismoke, through meat and meat products, as well as soups and sauces;
  • for Zesti Smoke Code 10, through meat and meat products, fish and fish products, composite foods (such as casseroles and meat pies) and processed fruits and vegetables;
  • for Smoke Concentrate 809045, through meat and meat products, soups, sauces, protein products and ready-to-eat savouries.

Studies showed that Unismoke and Zesti Smoke Code 10 caused adverse health effects in rats above certain intake levels. Due to the absence of data on reproduction and developmental toxicity and the lack of long-term studies on these two flavouring products, the CEF Panel concluded that the uses and use levels specified by their manufacturers would require larger margins of safety. Smoke Concentrate 809045 was found to cause no adverse health effects in rats at the highest levels tested.

Notes to editors

Smoking is traditionally used to help preserve certain foods such as dairy products, fish and meat. Over time, changes to the flavour of foods brought about by smoking have become more important than its preservative function. Smoke flavourings are now added to change the flavour of various foods, including many which are not traditionally smoked. The European Commission has asked EFSA to assess the safety of the smoke flavourings which are used or intended for use in the EU in order to draw up a list of authorised flavouring products. EFSA is due to publish opinions on eight further smoke flavourings by the end of 2009.

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