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Food Additives

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’.

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 Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 on foodstuffs intended for specific groups and the use of certain food colours for the health marking of meat and the decoration and stamping of eggs.

View full list of additives numerically or alphabetically

Additives are categorised as follows:

  • Acid
  • Acidity regulator*
  • Anti-caking agent
  • Anti-foaming agent
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Bulking agent
  • Carrier
  • Colour
  • Emulsifier
  • Emulsifying Salt
  • Firming agent
  • Flavour enhancer
  • Flour treatment agent
  • Foaming agent
  • Gelling agent
  • Glazing agent (includes lubricants)
  • Humectant
  • Modified starch
  • Preservative
  • Packaging gas
  • Propellant gas
  • Raising agent
  • Sequestrant
  • Stabiliser
  • Sweetener
  • Thickener

*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.

Here you can access legislation and guidance for food additives in the following: