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

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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their safety of use as food additives cannot be assessed and the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) should be withdrawn.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).