Thank god it’s Friday! Quick news from the world (Week 36)

Here is my selection of articles of the week:

EU

– EFSA stymies progress on ‘may contain’, by Rick Pendrous+ on www.foodmanufacture.co.uk, 11-Sep-2014: Alpro’s decision to reverse plans to combine its soya and nut production lines has shone the spotlight on the need for usable ‘action levels’ for adventitious allergen contamination of foods.

RUSSIA

– Russia bans Ukraine confectionery imports, by Oliver Nieburg+ on confectionerynews.com, 05-Sep-2014: Russian authorities have imposed an import ban on confectionery produced in Ukraine.

TAIWAN

– Taiwan Firm Recalls 12 Products Possibly Made With Recycled Waste Oilon foodsafetynews.com, 08-Set-2014;

– Supplier fined heavily in midst of Taiwan’s 780t recycled oil scandal, by RJ Whitehead on foodnavigator-asia.com, 11-Sep-2014: a Taiwanese food company has been handed a severe fine for selling lard made from cooking oil that had been recycled from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants.

UK

– Food safety powers must have teeth, The Guardian, 05-Sep-2014: a series of interesting opinions about food frauds in the supply chain and the Elliot review;

– Food groups welcome Elliott’s final report – mostly, by Mike Stones+ on foodmanufacture.co.uk, 05-Sep-2014: food industry groups have broadly welcomed Professor Elliott’s final report into the integrity of food supply chains and his eight-point plan to tackle fraud. Another round of comments on the Elliot Review;

New Food Police Unit Coming Soon to the UKby Dan Flinn on foodsafetynews.com, 10-Sep-2014; interesting article, with references to the Danish Food Crime Unit and the Dutch Food Crime Unit;

– Kellogg UK ‘30% less fat’ Special K porridge ad banned, by Kacey Culliney+ on foodnavigator.com, 10-Sep-2014: Kellogg’s Special K Multigrain porridge ad claiming fat level supremacy in the market has been banned after 15 complaints, including one from PepsiCo.

US – FOODBORNE ILLNESSES

– Encourage Reporting of Suspected Foodborne Illness, by Harlan Stueven, M.D., an emergency physician, poisoning specialist and founder of DiningGrades.comon foodsafetymagazine.com, 02-Sep-2014: the article examines the consequences of foodborne outbreak for restaurants and the lack of a universal and quick reporting system.

The sweeter the better? EU and US approve advantame use as food additive

The following is my first article on LinkedIn as publisher, a special account released by the platform to influencers and valuable bloggers in their respective sector. Here you can find the article on LinkedIn.

Now you can follow me also on LinkedIn to share our thoughts about food safety and regulations on a broader platform. I hope this will give our blog a greater audience!


On 19th May 2014 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the safety of use of the additive advantame in food, with the exception of meat and poultry. The FDA final rule will be effective from 21st May 2014.

Food additives in USA are subjected to premarket review and approval by FDA – like in this case – or have to demonstrate their safety through the so called “GRAS” procedure. “GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized ASafe and means that if a food additive has been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, there is no need of the premarket approval by FDA.

FDA evaluated data from 37 animal and human studies and did not identify possible toxic effects, such as reproductive, neurological, and cancer-causing effects. Therefore, advantame has been approved for use as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer and can be used in baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages (including soft drinks), chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings, and syrups.

In the meantime, the European Union was evaluating the approval of the substance as well.

On 31st July 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a Scientific Opinion on the safety of advantame as food additive. EFSA’s findings were very similar to FDA evaluation and the Authority concluded for the safety of use of the substance.

Anyway, the evaluating Panel noted that there is an indication of advantame instability in acidic beverages and thermally treated foods, and also that there are critical effects observed in animal studies, especially about maternal toxicity (gastrointestinal disturbances) in the prenatal developmental toxicity study in rabbits.

For that reason the Panel established a precautionary ADI (adequate daily intake) of 5 mg/kg bodyweight/day, assessing that conservative estimate of advantame exposure for high level adults and children consumers were below the ADI for the proposed use levels.

On 15th May 2014 was published on the Official Journal of the European Union the new EU Regulation n. 497/2014, which authorize from 4th June 2014 the use of advantame in several categories of food, such as flavoured fermented milk products, confectionery, cocoa and chocolate products, fruit and vegetable preparations excluding compote, jam, jellies, sweetened chestnut puree, chewing gum, breakfast cereals, bakery products, flavoured drinks, fruit nectars, soups, sauces, dietary foods and food supplements. Advantame will be classified and indicated on labels as E 969.

In 2013, the sweetener was evaluated also by JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) which issued the same conclusion again: advantame is safe for the intended use. The Committee proposed an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0–5 mg/kg body weight (bw) and agreed that the ADI also applies to those individuals with phenylketonuria, as the formation of phenylalanine from the normal use of advantame would not be significant in relation to this condition.

Advantame is an high-intensity sweetener, offering consumers and the food industry the option to choose from a wider selection of sweeteners, thus reducing the intake of each individual sweetener.