Andy G. Ebert

The topic of food additives recently become a “front burner” item for IFT for a number of reasons, and stemming from deliberations in a couple of different IFT groups, the “Food Chemicals Codex” (FCC) became one of several priorities in our global harmonization efforts. I subsequently offered to lead a small tactical team on FCC-related activities, and to provide updates on FCC developments of potential interest to the IFT membership.

The FCC is a compendium of internationally recognized standards for food ingredient purity and identity. Published since 1966, and now every two years, the compendium features monographs on food-grade chemicals, processing aids, ingredients (e.g., vegetable oils, fructose, whey, amino acids, flavoring agents, vitamins, and functional food ingredients), and families of substances (e.g., enzyme preparations, food starch, and spice oleoresins). With information on chemical formula, chemical weight, chemical structures, IR spectra, and test procedures and acceptance criteria, in addition to function and other aspects, the monographs are valuable standards for quality determinations. The FCC monographs are thus very useful to suppliers and manufacturers in making quality determinations for purchasing and other decisions.

U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) acquired the FCC from the Institute of Medicine in 2006. The FCC is increasingly recognized worldwide, including by governments and manufacturers, and in some instances is even a legal requirement for manufacturing or importing a food ingredient.

The second meeting of the Food Ingredients Expert Committee of the USP was held in Washington, D.C. in late April. Participation reflected the increased internationalization of the Expert Committee, with representatives from Europe, Asia, the Near East, and Oceania now joining U.S. and Canadian representatives in the preparation of the 7th Edition of the FCC, which is due out in 2012. A stated goal of the Food Chemicals Codex is to increase its value to consumers, food producers, and regulatory authorities worldwide.

Part of this activity will then mean inclusion of articles not previously included in the FCC and in some cases unique to a certain geographic area and perhaps not recognized by all FCC users. Nomenclature is therefore a major issue before the committee. We anticipate an increase in the number of descriptors and synonyms that will be utilized to reflect the unique names that are used in a country but also including other names by which the article is known in other parts of the world.

Methods of analysis, the backbone of the value of the FCC to its users, represent a major challenge and opportunity to our committee. We continue to want to provide guidance to the analyzer without burdening the regulated industry with an untoward numbers of assays. We similarly recognize that increased sophistication in analytical technology is often associated with increased cost and could create serious financial burdens to users of the FCC.

Economically motivated adulteration, a nagging problem at best and a matter of health and safety at worst, is the stimulus behind the creation of a Food Ingredients Intentional Adulterants Expert Panel, ably chaired by Jon DeVries. The panel’s identification of potential adulterants and assays discussed in several workshops will, we believe, result in information of great value to users of the FCC.

As the FCC expands in scope, the committee has recognized the need to provide FCC in languages other than English. A major effort in this area, translation into Mandarin, is underway and we hope will be ready for publication by 2012. As to the scope of the book, we observe numerous substances are being proposed for monograph creation that have undergone self-GRAS evaluation and the FCC does accept “provisional monographs” that have been successfully self-affirmed GRAS.

I plan to provide periodic progress reports on FCC for the benefit of IFT members. These updates will be accessible through the FCC link on the recently developed Food Additives page ( and a forthcoming International Developments webpage on the IFT website. More details about the FCC activities at the USP are available at and in the free quarterly eNewsletter ( and FCC Forum (

Monographs are developed and updated by volunteer experts and USP staff, and published for public review in an FCC Forum.

I invite any suggestions or comments you may have about FCC activities. You may reach me in the IFT Community ( or via [email protected].


Andy G. Ebert, Ph.D., an IFT Fellow, is Chair of the Food Ingredients Expert Committee, Member of the IFT Global Regulations & Policy Task Force, and FCC tactical team leader ([email protected]).