Labelling flavours in foods

Saturday, 20 November, 2004


Within the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) there are a number of provisions that food manufacturers need to be aware of when using flavourings in foods.

Flavours often contain a number of individual flavouring substances and may contain other food additives such as antioxidants and colourings. Preparations of food additives also contain carriers, solvents and diluents which may also require labelling.

Standard 1.2.4 - Labelling of Ingredients
Clause 8 - Declaration of food additives, requires that food additives must be declared in accordance with ingredient labelling requirements.

Subclause 8 (6) requires that flavours must be declared in the statement of ingredients by either the word 'flavouring' or 'flavour'; or a more specific name or description of the flavouring.

This means that all food additives, including flavourings, must be declared whenever there are ingredient labelling requirements. Flavourings can be declared simply by the generic terms, flavour or flavouring, as there are thousands of individual flavouring substances, many of which have complex chemical names that most consumers would not understand. Manufacturers can, however, still declare individual flavouring substances if they choose. For simpler or better-known substances such as maltol or vanillin, this information may be useful to some consumers.

Clause 6 - Declaration of compound ingredients, generally requires the listing of all the components of compound ingredients in descending order of ingoing weight. In the case where the amount of compound ingredient is less than 5% of the food, most of the ingredients are exempted, but all the food additives in the compound ingredient still need to be included in the statement of ingredients if the food additive is performing a technological function in the final food.

Flavourings often contain more than one component, they may contain many individual flavouring substances, as well as colourings, antioxidants or preservatives. If an antioxidant or a colouring in a flavouring is still exhibiting a technological function in the final food it needs to be labelled.

Standard 1.2.3 - Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations
Clause 4 requires that the substances listed that may cause severe adverse reactions in sensitive individuals must be declared when present in food. This means food additives and components of food additives that are derived from milk, nuts, eggs, crustacean, sesame seeds and fish - and are present in a flavouring - need to be declared on labels.

Standard 1.3.1 - Food Additives
Finally, all components of a flavouring need to be approved within the Code. Clause 11 - Permitted flavouring substances, lists the references to flavouring substances that may be used to flavour food. The food additives used in flavour preparations need to be approved in item 0.1 - Preparations of food additives within Schedule 1 of Standard 1.3.1.

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