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Introduction

Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008  harmonises the use of food additives in foods in the European Union. This includes the use of food additives in foods covered by  Directive 2009/39/EC  on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses and the use of certain food colours for the health marking of meat and the decoration and stamping of eggs.

 
A ‘food additive’ is defined in Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 as meaning ‘any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods’. 

View full list of additives numerically or alphabetically 

Additives are categorised as follows:

 

Categories of Food Additives 

Acid

Emulsifying Salt

Preservative

Acidity regulator*

Firming agent

Packaging gas

Anti-caking agent

Flavour enhancer

Propellant gas

Anti-foaming agent

Flour treatment agent

Raising agent

Anti-oxidant

Foaming agent

Sequestrant

Bulking agent

Gelling agent

Stabiliser

Carrier

Glazing agent (includes lubricants)

Sweetener

Colour

Humectant

Thickener

Emulsifier

Modified starch

 

*these can act as two-way acidity regulators 

Food additives must be approved by the EU and may only be used if they fulfil the criteria laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. They must be safe when used and there must be a technological need for their use.  Use of food additives must not mislead the consumer and must be of benefit to the consumer. Misleading the consumer includes, but is not limited to, issues related to the nature, freshness, quality of ingredients used, the naturalness of a product or of the production process, or the nutritional quality of the product, including its fruit and vegetable content. 

Last reviewed: 25/5/2012

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