25 Aug 2015

Learn more about JECFA and how this could impact your food substance.

on august 10th 2015, jecfa (the joint fao/who expert committee on food additives), released its call for data (list of substances scheduled for evaluation and request for data) in advance of the committee's 82nd meeting to be held in geneva on june 7th to 16th of next year.

jecfa is an expert committee, administered jointly by the food and agriculture organization of the united nations (fao) and the world health organization (who), that provides independent scientific advice to the codex committee on food additives (ccfa), one of several committees of the codex alimentarius commission (cac).  as part of codex, an international organization dedicated to the protection of consumer health and facilitation of international trade in food, ccfa's role among others is to determine permitted maximum levels and recommend specifications of identity and purity for food additives.  ccfa is also responsible for the preparation of a priority list of food additives for risk assessment by jecfa.  jecfa meetings related to the safety of food additives specifically are held once a year in june alternating between geneva and rome, the who and fao headquarters, respectively.

in total, 18 food additives, as prioritized by ccfa, are included on the call for data for the meeting in 2016.  the 10 food additives listed below are scheduled for assessment of safety, dietary intakes, and/or establishment of specifications.  in the case of these evaluations, the committee has requested toxicological and/or technological data to conduct its assessments. 

  • acacia polyacantha var. campylacantha
  • kakamut gum
  • arabino-galactan protein complex
  • allura red ac
  • carob bean gum
  • octenyl succinic acid modified gum arabic
  • pectin
  • quinoline yellow
  • rosemary extract
  • steviol glycosides
  • tartrazine
  • xanthan gum

for a further 8 food additives listed here, revisions to existing specifications and/or analytical methods will be considered by the committee.  additionally, the committee will also consider the safety and specifications of 30 flavoring substances at the meeting. 

  • cassia gum
  • citric and fatty acid esters of glycerol
  • lutein esters from tagetes erecta
  • modified starches
  • octanoic acid
  • sodium dihydrogen phosphate
  • starch sodium octenyl succinate
  • total colouring matters content (tentative).

how will jecfa's evaluation of a food additive in 2016 affect you?  once jecfa has assessed the safety of a food additive, the outcome of the evaluation and the basis for the decision are presented in a summary report (who technical report series), with more details provided in an accompanying monograph (who food additive series).  in some instances, jecfa will set an acceptable daily intake or an adi for the substance as part of its safety evaluation.  typically, specifications also are established for the substance and are published in the combined compendium of food additive specifications.  the outcome of the jecfa assessments may influence regulatory requirements in various jurisdictions, particularly in countries that refer to the codex alimentarius for guidance as to permissible use-conditions for a particular food additive. 

what should you do next? jecfa's call for data is an open call, inviting governments, non-government organizations, producers of the substances on the call, or any other interested parties to submit the requested data to the committee for consideration at the meeting.  the deadline for data submission is december 1st, 2015.  intertek has extensive expertise in the preparation of submissions in support of safety of food additives scheduled for evaluation by jecfa.  we are able to assist companies in the determination of what data need to be submitted to jecfa, compilation and submission of the data package, and stewardship following submission. 

for further information regarding the call for data or to enquire about the submission services offered by intertek, please contact us at:  food.sci-reg@intertek.com

You may be interested in...