Food processors may face further storms over additives following changes to EU regulations at the end of last year. The Food Improvement Agents Package will introduce more detailed laws governing enzymes and flavourings, for which there were previously no officially approved lists.
They will trigger a two-year review of all additives, after which approved European Community (EC) lists will be drawn up. Transition periods are so far unclear.
The flavourings list is set to be approved by December 31, 2010, with enzymes added to foods and additives other than enzymes or flavourings to follow. After this, foods lawfully marketed or labelled before January 20, 2011 containing unlisted ingredients may be sold until the end of their shelf-life.
However, Owen Warnock, partner and food law specialist at Eversheds, fears the food industry could be too relaxed about the developments.
"I'm concerned that people aren't anxious enough about this. The danger is that a food manufacturer assumes it can carry on using the same additives."
More research following the Southampton University study of six colours and one preservative in 2007 could spark further changes in additive labelling, predicts Warnock. Any associated publicity could drive consumer - and hence retailer - pressure to remove even more additives from products.
From July 20, 2010, regulations will also require foods containing the so-called 'Southampton six' plus the preservative sodium benzoate to be labelled 'may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children'. The six colours are: sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), ponceau 4R (E124), and tartrazine (E102).
Warnock says processors should ensure additive suppliers keep them constantly updated on the changes.