Changes to EU rules governing flavourings will put pressure on firms to use potentially dangerous natural substances instead of safer nature identical synthetic alternatives, experts have warned.
Under the new flavouring Regulation, which is part of the recently ratified Food Improvement Agent Package, the category of 'nature identical' flavours (produced from synthetics but chemically identical to their natural counterparts) has been scrapped, and if firms want to make 'all natural' claims, they need to use natural alternatives.
In the case of smoke flavouring, this meant the fractionation and purification of condensed smoke, which would expose people to carcinogens, claimed flavourings consultant David Baines.
"Smoking naturally puts genotoxic carcinogens into food, but it's another step to take the smoke and make a liquid [flavour] out of it. I don't think it's morally justifiable. It should only be used to replace traditional smoking, but it could end up right through all kinds of products where people want a smoky flavour, like crisps."
Omega Ingredients md Steve Pearce added: "There is a particular problem with smoke flavours where the regulations will insist we give carcinogenic products to consumers, whereas we currently use very effective non-carcinogenic substitutes."
Dr James Ridsdale, senior scientific officer at the Food Standards Agency, said smoke flavourings should be considered in the context of the risk of the smoking process, which was legal. "I can't say whether smoke condensates will be approved yet as the European Food Safety Authority is not issuing case-by-case approvals. We have to wait until the [entire] list [of substances approved] is published."