Photo of Katia Merten-LentzPhoto of Christophe Leprêtre

Below is a summary of the World Food Regulation Review, Vol. 28, Number 11, April 2019 article which was authored by Katia Merten-Lentz, Partner at Keller and Heckman, and Christophe Leprêtre, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Counselor at Keller and Heckman.

The 51st meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Additives (CCFA51) finalizes most of its backlog on food additives, other than sweeteners and colors, such as in mozzarella or plain milk or other fluid milks, but also in the other food categories. CCAF51 also adopted provisions for final approval on all the remaining color provisions in several confectionery subcategories (candies, chewing gum, decorations and nougats/marzipans). All these provisions, once adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission at its forthcoming session in July this year, will then be included in the Codex Alimentarius General Standard on Food Additives (GSFA, 2019 version) around August/September. CCFA51 agreed to extend this successful ‘experiment’ on pending color provisions to chocolate and chocolate products, food/dietary supplements, and soft drinks. CCFA51 decided to seek comments from countries on nitrites and nitrates and existing national exposure assessments, as well as inputs on upper limits of amounts added and residual amounts in target foods where they are in use. CCFA51 decided to stop working at further definitions and criteria for use of food additives in “plain”, “fresh”, “unprocessed”, and “untreated” foods.

CCFA51 also approved alternative options for replacing references to national legislation and criteria set in section 3.2 of the preamble of the GSFA (i.e. “Note 161”) and has agreed to move forward with considering most of the pending provisions for “sweeteners” (i.e. food additives used to replace sugars and confer sweet taste to food with beneficial lower calorie counts) in most of the food categories, a tremendous unlocking of a situation frozen since 2011 with no significant hope of resolving the issue.

CCFA51 has clarified that decisions on parent names of food additives will be better reflected in CCFA51 reports and when such groupings would affect food additives provisions already permitted in the GSFA, it may engage a specific work as per the one decided this year on three similar emulsifiers of the family of “esters of sucrose” (INS 473, 473a, and 474).

CCFA51 found consensus (unanimity) on all its regular items such as, (i) alignment between GSFA and commodity standards (and moving to complete full alignment on remaining dairy commodity standards next year); (ii) endorsement of provisions included in draft commodity standards developed by other Codex Committees (but some were returned to the Commodity on Spices and Culinary Herbs to confirm technical needs and types of products for which the proposed uses were put forward to CCFA); (iii) amendments to the international numbering systems and functional classes of food additives (with deletion of RED 2G and future work to track future deletions from the INS); (iv) future priorities of JECFA upcoming scientific evaluations (which newly includes a request on reviewing nisin and natamycin safety); and (v) endorsement as a Codex norm of a series of new or revised specifications of identity and purity for a couple of food additives (no comments raised during plenary on those).

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