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Legislative update: 
how food colours are currently differentiated from colouring foods and how the EU legislative review might change this

SEBASTIÁN ROMERO MELCHOR1, ALESSANDRO DI MARIO2
1. Partner at K&L Gates, Rue de l’Industrie 26-38, B-1040, Brussels
2. K&L Gates, Rue de l’Industrie 26-38, B-1040, Brussels

Abstract

The present article aims at providing some general guidance in relation to the different EU legislation on food colours (i.e. food additives which are attributed an ‘E-number’) and colouring foods (i.e. food ingredients without ‘E-number’). In particular, the present note describes and explains the main criteria, to be used in order to draw a distinction between the two categories, especially in relation to the substances located in a ‘grey area’ of borderline cases, in the light of the 2013 Commission Guidance notes on the classification of food extracts with colouring properties.


INTRODUCTION

‘Food colours’ and ‘colouring foods’ have very similar names but very different regulation under EU law. On one hand, the similarities between the two categories are not limited to the use of analogous words; on the other hand, the legal differences are not limited to the application of different legal instruments. The present article aims at providing some clarity in relation to the distinction between the two categories, with special focus on the borderline cases, whose attribution to the former or latter category is not always clear.

FOOD COLOURS
It is necessary to start with the definitions of the above concepts as provided by the relevant legislative instruments of EU law. The word ‘colours’ in relation to food (i.e. food colours) refers -according to the Regulation on food additives (1) - to all “substances which add or restore colour in a food”. These include natural constituents of foods and natural sources which are normally not consumed as foods as such and which are not normally used as characteristic ingredients of food. Furthermore, “the preparations which have been ... ...



 

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