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Food additives are:(EFSA)

  • Sweeteners to sweeten foods or in table-top sweeteners;
  • Colours adding or restoring colour in a food;
  • Preservatives prolonging shelf-life of foods by protecting them against deterioration by micro-organisms;
  • Antioxidants prolonging shelf-life of foods by protecting them against oxidation e.g. fat rancidity, colour changes;
  • Stabilisers to maintain the physico-chemical state of a foodstuff;
  • Emulsifiers to maintain the mixture of oil and water in a foodstuff.

Added to food for technological purposes in its manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage, food additives become a component of the food. EU legislation describes 26 different technological functions.

All additives in the EU must be authorised and listed with conditions of use in the EU's 'positive' list based on:

  • A safety assessment;
  • The technological need;
  • Ensuring that use of the additive will not mislead consumers.
The use of food colours is considered acceptable for the following purposes:
  • To restore the original appearance of food of which the colour has been affected by processing, storage, packaging and distribution;
  • To make food more visually appealing;
  • To give colour to food otherwise colourless.

The use of food colours must always comply with the general condition that they do not mislead the consumer. For example, the use of colours should not give the impression that it contains ingredients that have never been added.
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