FoodEU may ban popular snacks over harmful smoke flavor additives

EU may ban popular snacks over harmful smoke flavor additives

The EU office investigated the flavors used in popular snacks
The EU office investigated the flavors used in popular snacks
Images source: © Adobe Stock

8:47 AM EDT, June 11, 2024

The European Food Safety Authority warns against the harmful effects of smoke flavors. This additive is commonly used in the food industry, and as a result, the European Union may ban popular chips, sauces, and other snacks.

Smoke flavors are a modern alternative to traditional smoking, which has been used for years to preserve food products such as fish, meat, and dairy. Although these flavors do not serve a preservative function, they give foods and snacks a smoked taste when added.

The union warns against smoke flavors

European Union legislation requires that these flavors undergo a safety assessment before being marketed. Authorizations must be renewed every ten years. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) re-examined eight of these substances for health safety, and the results may be concerning.

Based on the available scientific evidence, officials cannot rule out genotoxic effects, which is the ability of a chemical substance to damage the genetic material of cells. Changes or mutations in the cell's genetic information can increase the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and hereditary conditions.

It is worth noting, however, that EFSA assumes worst-case scenarios. The likelihood of side effects depends on many factors, including a person's genetics and dietary habits.

New studies and new concerns

After updating measurement methodologies, new studies were conducted. The new 2021 guidelines state that detecting one genotoxic component in a mixture classifies that mixture as genotoxic.

Six of the smoke flavors examined contained genotoxic substances. Scientists do not rule out similar effects for the remaining two flavors.

Will the union ban snacks?

The European Food Safety Authority did not renew the authorizations for the tested flavors. The European Commission and EU member states must now consider the scientists' opinion.

If the Union sides with the scientists, it could mean a ban on the sale of meats, fish, cheeses, and smoked snacks containing these popular additives. The final decision will be known by the end of June 2024.

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