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EFSA report outlines recommendations for improved food additives model

By Nathan Gray+

24-Mar-2014

EFSA report outlines recommendations for improved food additives model

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) plans to revise the tool used to estimate food additive intakes on the back of stakeholder feedback and updates of food consumption in its Comprehensive Database.

A revision of EFSAs Food Additives Intake Model (FAIM) tool is expected to begin following the update of food consumption data in the agency's Comprehensive Database later this year.

The revision will also take in to account feedback from EU member states and key industry stakeholders - which together have fed in to recommendations for further development of the tool during the next update.

In its latest update report , outlining the comments received and its own views on these comments, EFSA suggested that some of the suggestions provided by the stakeholders on modifications in the current nomenclature - which are aimed at reducing uncertainties on intakes by further differentiating food groups - will be taken into consideration.

"The use of concentration data other than the maximum usage level within the framework of the re-evaluation programme for food additives set by Commission regulation could also be considered," said EFSA.

Measuring additive intake

The Food Additives Intake Model (FAIM) was developed by EFSA as a tool for estimating chronic exposure to food additives. It allows industry and regulators to estimate the average and high level exposure to food additives for different population groups throughout several European countries.

FAIM is based on summary statistics of food consumption data available within the EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database, and includes food consumption data on children, adolescents, adults and the elderly for a total of 26 different dietary surveys carried out in 17 different Member States.

"It can be used for the estimation of exposure to a new food additive for which authorisation is requested, for an extension of use of an existing food additive, or the estimation of exposure resulting from the uses of food additives already in the market," said EFSA.

FAIM update

EFSA noted that new dietary surveys, expected to become available and included in the EFSA Comprehensive Database in 2014, offer the agency with a chance to update the FAIM tool.

In addition to updating dietary data based on the refreshed Comprehensive Database, the EU science agency said that it plans to improve the tool based on feedback from stakeholders. These improvements include considering the reclassification and differentiation of different food groups in the current tool, including:

  • In fine bakery wares (under FCS category 7.2) it was suggested that separating cereal bars, pastries and cakes and biscuits (cookies) would allow for further refinement.
  • For milk-based beverages (included under FCS category 14.1.4): milk-based drinks could also be differentiated as a separate category within the non-alcoholic beverages category, to take into account the fact that for some food additives use levels in milk-based drinks may differ from those in water-based drinks
  • In the unprocessed meat category (FCS category 8.1) currently all non-processed meat products are considered in this food category in the FAIM template. However, food additives are mainly used in the following foods: breakfast sausages, burger meat, gehakt and fresh-packed preparations of fresh minced meat, with the exception of some food colours used specifically for hygiene marking of meats; therefore this category could be further refined.
  • Alcoholic beverages (FCS category 14.2): wines and beers could be separated from other alcoholic beverages (e.g. spirits) considering their differences in consumption levels and reported usage levels.

The agency added that other recommendations, aimed at decreasing the uncertainty in estimating exposures, and therefore improving the current exposure figures from the FAIM tool, include:

  1. The submission of food additives occurrence data from monitoring programmes implemented by Member States should be encouraged as part of the legal obligation set by Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. To help this process, a priority list of food additives to be monitored, based on current usages and main foods consumed contributing to theoretical dietary exposure, needs to be set, endorsed by Member States, and planned into a middle-term strategy of monitoring programme coordinated at EU level, said EFSA.
  2. A common definition of the representativeness of the data (usage levels and market share data on the products) made available by industry would help to take additional information from stakeholders into account within the FAIM tool.