Detecting flavouring and additives in manufactured food

Tuesday, 21 September, 2021

Detecting flavouring and additives in manufactured food

Food control laboratories need suitable methods to ensure that what’s printed on the ingredients label of a food product is the same as what’s in the actual food product. To help with this task, a new national reference laboratory for food additives and flavourings has been set up at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

“The new national reference laboratory develops analytical methods for food additives and flavourings and contributes to their standardisation,” said the BfR President Professor, Dr Andreas Hensel.

Food manufacturers in the European Union are allowed to use around 320 food additives for technical purposes and around 2500 permitted flavourings. However, until now, standardised analytical methods have only been developed for comparatively few food additives and flavourings.

The provision of validated and standardised analytical methods via a national reference laboratory is therefore an important step in establishing a systematic monitoring of the consumption of food additives and flavourings.

The new analytical methods developed can be used to detect unauthorised use of food additives and flavourings and also check whether the flavourings are of natural or synthetic origin.

An important priority for food safety monitoring is additives which have an acceptable daily intake (ADI) level. These include, for example, preservatives, colours, sweeteners and emulsifiers.

Standardised methodology is an important outcome here, as are efficient processes that can be used to test for multiple chemicals in one pass, without repeated testing being necessary. All sorts of other methods are hoping to be developed too, at a granular and specific level.

The reference laboratory is going to be developing these new analytical standards both based on the BfR’s expertise in other fields such as wine analysis, as well as the combined knowledge of an international network of partners who have also developed analytical methods.

The methods developed will be available not just to existing governmental food control laboratories but also to business operators and commercial laboratories, in order to allow widespread access to the important analytical information.

Image credit: © Studio

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