Andrew G. Ebert

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the international food standards–setting organization of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health organization. One of the key activities of the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC) is maintaining the Codex General Standard on Food Additives. This General Standard provides a system for incorporating food additives in both Codex standardized and non-standardized foods, thus protecting consumers and providing a workable alternative to the now somewhat obsolete Codex commodity (“vertical”) food standards.

The General Standard addresses general principles for the use of food additives, including good manufacturing practices, specifications for the identity and purity of food additives, and carryover of additives into foods. Food additives are grouped in the General Standard into 23 major functional classes on the basis of the Codex International Numbering System (INS). The General Standard specifies for each additive or group of additives the foods in which the additive is acceptable for use and any acceptable maximum use levels.

Work on the General Standard has proceeded for nearly a decade. Reviews of the General Standard are conducted on a regular basis, and the General Standard is revised as needed in light of revisions by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of Acceptable Daily Intakes, changing technological need, and justification for use.

Several additives are at risk of not being included in the General Standard or being restricted for use in only certain foods because the necessary information and data available to CCFAC are insufficient. CCFAC has issued calls for the needed data and expended considerable efforts to obtain the data. Unfortunately, the response has been less than adequate.

To advance the extremely important work on the General Standard and ensure that the additives needed for various uses are not prohibited in foods in international trade because of exclusion from the General Standard, information and data are needed for the direct food additives listed below. The information and data needed include the use and use level, function, need, justification, and resultant effect for food products if the additive is not used. Each of these additives has been given high priority by CCFAC for development within the General Standard.

The need for this information is critical. Without sufficient supporting data, certain food additives that food manufacturers require for achieving specific purposes (e.g., preserving nutritional, sensory, or keeping quality; or meeting necessary formulations for foods required by consumers having special dietary needs) may not be acceptable for use in foods intended for the global marketplace; i.e., they may become illegal in international trade.

IFT members can and should be involved in providing the needed information and data on food additives that are greatly needed in the Codex Alimentarius Food Standards Program. If you produce, formulate, distribute, or use any of the following food additives, it is vital that you provide information by February 15, 2002, to Maria P. Oria, Staff Scientist, Dept. of Science and Technology Projects, Institute of Food Technologists, 1025 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 503, Washington, DC 20036-5422 (phone 202-466-5980, fax 202-466-5988, [email protected]).

Upon receiving your data, IFT will compile the material received and forward it to the appropriate Codex authorities for consideration by the 34th Session of CCFAC, March 11–15, 2002.

Andrew Ebert is Chair, IFT Committee on Codex Alimentarius Activities and Senior Vice President, The Kellen Co., Atlanta, Ga. Rosetta Newsome is Staff Liaison, IFT Committee on Codex Alimentarius Activities and Director, IFT’s Science and Communications Dept., Institute of Food Technologists, Chicago, Ill.