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While flavorings in the European Union currently fall under directive 88/388, established in 1988, this is set to change in 2008 with the adoption of FIAP (Food Improvement Agent Package). As Joy Hardinge (AJH Consulting) explained at the SAFC symposium in Grasse, France, the new legislation is presently being debated by the European Parliament and Council, and is expected to be adopted in 2008. A main difference between Directive 88/388 and FIAP is that the new legislation is a regulation and would therefore automatically become law. A directive, on the other hand, only becomes law once a member state brings it into its own legislation, which can take up to three years to complete.
Hardinge highlighted the main points set out in the proposed legislation along with some of the potential challenges. Directive 88/388 covers flavoring preparations, process flavorings, smoke flavorings and flavoring substances (including natural, nature identical and artificial). The new legislation has some significant changes in store, including extending the scope to embrace “certain food ingredients with flavoring properties.” Additionally, it will replace process flavorings with thermal process flavorings—those flavors obtained after heat treatment from a mixture of ingredients, not necessarily having flavoring properties themselves. One ingredient must contain amino nitrogen and one must be a reducing sugar.
The end of nature identical, artificial: Another key difference in the new legislation is that the nature identical and artificial categories of flavorings disappear. This could prove to be a difficult change for the industry, whichhas unsuccessfully lobbied to keep the categories.
New flavoring categories: The new proposal has two new categories of flavorings: precursor flavors and "other flavorings." A precursor flavor is defined as a product not necessarily with flavoring properties that is added to food for the purpose of producing flavoring by breaking down or reacting with other components during food processing. The other flavorings category is a catchall for any other flavoring that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories. Hardinge gave the example of grill flavors and rum ether.
Article seven of the proposed legislation states that flavoring preparations, thermal process flavorings and flavor precursors—providing they are from food sources and produced within the set guidelines—do not require evaluation and approval. Additionally, food ingredients with flavoring properties don’t need to be evaluated. On the other hand, flavoring substances, flavoring preparations and flavoring precursors from non-food need to be evaluated. Other flavorings and thermal process flavorings from non-food or outside the guidelines also need to be evaluated.