Submissions welcome for new additive category for coconut milk products

Submissions welcome for new additive category for coconut milk products

Following regulatory uncertainty about food additive permissions for coconut milk products, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is inviting submissions on a suggested new food additive category.

Coconut milk is made by heating water combined with coconut tissue or coconut meat. Food additives such as emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners are used during processing to prevent the water and fat components from separating.

Although it is a popular ingredient in Asian curries and tropical cuisines, Australia and New Zealand import all coconut milk products. That was one of the factors prompting the Australian Food and Beverages Importers Association (FBIA) to take action, as many of these products are held at the Australian border due to difficulties in categorising them for food additive permissions.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth explained: “FSANZ is proposing to create a new category to ensure regulatory certainty so coconut milk producers can use the additives needed to prevent separation of the fat and water parts of the product.”

The subcategory for ‘coconut milk coconut cream and coconut syrup’ under the category ‘non-alcoholic beverages and brewed soft drinks’ does not allow various emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners in juices separated by mechanical means, whereas the category for ‘processed fruits and vegetables’ does.

According to the international food standards in Codex Alimentarius, coconut milk products are considered as fruits and vegetables rather than beverages, and the Codex Standard for these products does permit the use of some food additives as stabilisers or thickeners.

FBIA’s application aims to align the Code with Codex Standards, and categorise coconut milk products as processed fruit products as opposed to beverages. This will also allow these products to contain certain food additives permitted at GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice).

Therefore, FSANZ is proposing to move coconut milk from the beverages category and add it as a new subcategory under processed fruits and vegetables. This would permit the use of emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners that are required to produce coconut milk products.

Submissions close 19 March 2018.

Image credit: ©lakovKalinin/Dollar Photo Club

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