EU to ban artificial smoky snack flavourings over cancer fears

Europe EU to ban artificial smoky snack flavourings over cancer fears

European member states are to ban artificial smoke flavourings used in products such as cheeses and crisps amid concern over health risks. Manufacturers have two years to find alternatives.

Smoke-flavoured sauces or crisps are not actually flavoured with real smoke, but with additives derived from the condensation of various woods – called smoke flavour primary products (SFPPs) – which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is concerned could lead to cancer.

The EFSA published findings in November 2023 that raised concerns about the products' genotoxicity – their impact on cell genes that could lead to cancer.

Following the findings, European member states in April endorsed a commission proposal not to renew authorisation for eight smoke flavourings.

Time to find alternatives

The new regulation, which will be formally adopted in the coming weeks and implemented later this year, gives food producers time to find alternatives.

Products that use smoke additives as flavour enhancer, like crisps or sauces, will be banned within two years, unless their ingredients change, while products that use the additives to replace traditional smoking, like ham, fish or cheeses, have five years.

Hams or salmon that are smoked traditionally, without additives, will not be impacted by the ban.

The Irish snack company Kerry has warned the new regulation would cause “major economic harm” to the food industry, affecting some €30 billion of sales, as Ireland is one of Europe's biggest consumers of smoked products.

But the European Commission has said that the regulation allows companies enough time to come up with alternatives.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024