EU votes to ban ‘burnt, nutty’ flavour substance

Posted on 23 May 2013

tubesThe European Commission and European Union member states have this week declared that the flavouring substance 3-acetyl-2,5-dimethylthiophene should be banned.

‘The flavouring substance 3-acetyl-2,5-dimethylthiophene is genotoxic (that is, it can damage DNA, the genetic material of cells) and therefore a safety concern for human health. Genotoxic substances should not be intentionally added to the food chain’, says a scientific opinion and press release recently published by EFSA.

While EFSA did not undertake an exposure assessment, it stated in its press release that ‘the possible risk to consumers who may have been exposed to this substance in food is expected to be very small’.

The substance 3-acetyl-2,5-dimethylthiophene is used to give food a burnt nutty flavour. It is produced by a small number of manufacturers and its overall use is low (total annual use in the EU is reported to be 2.3kg).

The Food Standards Agency has been informed that the UK food industry uses only a small amount of this substance and is already reformulating foods that contain 3-acetyl-2,5-dimethylthiophene.

The decision to remove this substance from the list of approved flavourings was supported by all member states and will now be subject to scrutiny by the European Parliament and Council. It is expected to be adopted by the European Commission and come into force in early July.

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