Labelling of Food Additives
While the FSAI Advice Line provides advice and support on the topic of food additives, it does not provide advice on the authorised use of specific additives in specific food. Please do not send us queries requesting this service. It is the responsibility of the food business owner to ensure compliance with food law by accessing the food additives information provided on our website and also through the European Commission’s database on food additives which serves as a tool to provide information about the food additives approved for use in food in the EU and their conditions of use.
Food Additives and labelling
Food additives are subject to the requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the
provision of food information to the consumer (FIC) and, as the case may be, in
Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003 and in Regulation (EC) No. 1830/2003 concerning the
traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and the traceability of
food products produced from genetically modified organisms. In addition, specific
provisions on the labelling of food additives sold as such to the manufacturer or to
the final consumer are contained in Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008.
(EU) No. 1169/2011 defines ‘ingredient’ as:
‘any substance or product, including flavourings, food additives and food
enzymes, and any constituent of a compound ingredient, used in the manufacture or
preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, even if in an
altered form; residues shall not be considered as
Therefore food additives used in the production of food are considered ingredients
and must be listed in the ingredients list using the name of their category followed
by their specific name or EC number ( e.g. Antioxidant: Ascorbic Acid or Antioxidant:
E300). However, in the case of the food additive sulphur dioxide and sulphite present
at levels exceeding 10mg/kg or 10mg/l expressed as SO2 the E number may not be used
as this particular substance is considered an ingredient which is known as likely to
trigger adverse effects in sensitive individuals ( ie is listed as an allergen in
to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011) . This substance must appear in the list of
ingredients under its full name and must be emphasised through a typeset that clearly
distinguishes it from the rest of the list of ingredients. In the absence of a list
of ingredients, the indication of the allergen must comprise the word
‘contains’ followed by the name of the substance or product as listed in
of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011. Under this legislation the following are not
- food additives whose presence in a given food is solely due to the fact that they
were contained in one or more ingredients of that food, in accordance with the
carry-over principle referred to in points (a) and (b) of Article 18(1) of Regulation
(EC) No. 1333/2008, provided that they serve no technological function in the
finished product; or
- food additives which are used as processing aid
However, this derogation does not apply where the food additive or processing aid is
derived from one of the substances or product listed in Annex II of
Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011.
Labelling of food additives not intended for sale to the final consumer
Food additives not intended for sale to the final consumer, whether sold singly or mixed with each other and/or with food ingredients, may only be marketed with the labelling provided for in Article 22 of Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. This
information must be easily visible, clearly legible and indelible.
1. Article 22 of Regulation (EC) No.
1333/2008 requires that the packaging or containers must bear the following
(a) the name and/or E-number as set out in Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 in respect
of each food additive or a sales description which includes the name and/or
E-number of each food additive;
(b) the statement ‘for food’ or the statement ‘restricted use in
food’ or a more specific reference to its intended food use;
(c) if necessary, the special conditions of storage and/or use;
(d) a mark identifying the batch or lot;
(e) instructions for use, if the omission thereof would preclude appropriate use of
the food additive;
(f) the name or business name and address of the manufacturer, packager or
(g) an indication of the maximum quantity of each component or group of components
subject to quantitative limitation in food and/or appropriate information
in clear and easily understandable terms enabling the purchaser to
comply with this Regulation or other relevant EU law; where the same limit on
quantity applies to a group of components used singly or in
combination, the combined percentage may be given as a single figure; the limit on
quantity shall be expressed either numerically or by the quantum satis
(h) the net quantity;
(i) the date of minimum durability or use-by-date;
(j) where relevant, information on a food additive or other substances listed in
to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 (allergens)
2. Where food additives are sold mixed with each other and/or with other food
ingredients, their packaging or containers must bear a list of all ingredients in
descending order of their percentage by weight of the total.
3. Where substances (including food additives or other food ingredients) are added to
food additives to facilitate their storage, sale, standardisation, dilution or
dissolution, their packaging or containers must bear a list of all such substances in
descending order of their percentage by weight of the total.
By way of derogation from points 1, 2 and 3 above, the information required in Point
1(e) to (g) and in Points 2 and 3 may appear merely on the documents relating to the
consignment which are to be supplied with or prior to the delivery, provided that the
indication ‘not for retail sale’ appears on an easily visible part of the
packaging or container of the product in question.
Where food additives are supplied in tankers, all of the information above may appear
merely on the accompanying documents relating to the consignment which are to be
supplied with the delivery.
In addition to the requirements set out in Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the
provision of food information to consumers, Directive 2011/91/EU on indications or marks
identifying the lot to which a foodstuff belongs and
Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003 on genetically modified food, food additives sold
singly or mixed with each other and/or other food ingredients intended for sale to
the final consumer may be marketed only if their packaging contains the following
- the name and E-number laid down in Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 in
respect of each food additive or a sales description which includes the name and
E-number of each food additive;
- the statement ‘for food’ or the statement ‘restricted use in
food’ or a more specific reference to its intended food use.
Table-top sweeteners are defined in Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 as
‘preparations of permitted sweeteners, which may contain other food
additives and/or food ingredients and which are intended for sale to the final
consumer as a substitute for sugars’. The legislation requires that the
sales description of a table-top sweetener must include the term ‘…
-based table-top sweetener’, using the name(s) of the sweetener(s) used in its
Manufacturers of table-top sweeteners must make available by appropriate means, the
necessary information to allow the safe use of such products by consumers.
Foods containing a sweetener or sweeteners authorised pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 must accompany the name of the food with the statement ‘with
Foods containing both an added sugar or sugars and a sweetener or sweeteners
authorised pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008, must
accompany the name of the food with the statement ‘with sugar(s) and
Foods containing aspartame/ aspartame-acesulfame salt authorised pursuant to
Regulation EC) No. 1333/2008 must
- ‘contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine)’ in cases where
aspartame/ aspartame-acesulfame salt is designated in the list of ingredients only by
reference to the E number
- ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’ in cases where
aspartame/aspartame-acesulfame salt is designated in the list of ingredients by its
Foods containing more than 10 % added polyols authorised pursuant to Regulation (EC)
No 1333/2008 must indicate ‘excessive consumption may produce laxative
Since the 20th July 2010, the labelling of prepackaged food and drink containing one
or more of the food colours - sunset yellow (E 110), quinoline yellow (E 104),
carmoisine (E 122), allura red (E 129), tartrazine (E 102) or ponceau 4R (E 124) are
required to display the following warning message: 'Name or E number of the colour(s): may have an adverse
effect on activity and attention in children.'
This warning message applies to all prepackaged food and drink products, with the
exception of foods where the colour(s) has been used for the purposes of health or
other marking on meat products or for stamping or decorative colouring on eggshells.
In addition alcoholic drinks containing alcohol above 1.2% by volume do not need to
carry the warning.
The ‘warning’ statement for these six colours, often referred to as the
‘Southampton colours’, is included in Article 24 of Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 on food additives.
Last reviewed: 4/8/2021