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Safety of Food Additives in Europe

The use of additives in foods traded within the EU is strictly controlled by legislation, which can be amended to include newly approved additives or to delete additives that are no longer approved. Food additives can only be approved for inclusion in EU permitted lists by decision of the European Commission and Member States, which are the risk managers. Before making any approvals, a full risk assessment is carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises the risk managers. EFSA considers all safety aspects of an additive, including technical toxicological and exposure data. If there are no safety concerns, EFSA sets an acceptable daily intake (ADI). The ADI is compared with estimates of overall exposure to the food additive, which include both average and high exposure estimates for the population and relevant sub-groups. If estimated exposure exceeds the ADI, it is the task of the risk managers to impose any necessary restrictions on the uses and use levels of the additive in foods. Once marketed, the monitoring of consumer intakes of food additives by the Member States enables checks to be carried out to ensure ADIs are not being exceeded. EFSA is also conducting a re-evaluation of all currently permitted food additives on the EU market that includes consideration of all published literature and documentation submitted by manufacturers and other interested parties. This has already resulted in some additives being removed from the permitted lists and in the lowering or raising of ADIs set previously.

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21 Feb 2013
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