"I am very pleased with the adoption of these safety provisions for smoke flavours," said David Byrne, Commissioner for health and consumer protection. "The aim of this legislation is to put consumer safety first while at the same time solving the problems of diverging national rules that manufacturers currently face in marketing their products."
A wide range of different smoke flavourings is produced from smoke condensates. The Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), an independent committee that advised the Commission on questions concerning consumer health and food safety, concluded that the existing multitude of smoke flavourings are based on only a limited number of commercially available smoke condensates. The SCF therefore concluded that toxicological evaluation should focus on these condensates rather than on the multitude of derived smoke flavourings.
Smoke flavourings and the conditions under which they are manufactured are covered by Regulation (EC) No. 2065/2003. This lays down detailed authorisation procedures for primary products that are primary smoke condensates and primary tar fractions, both of which must contain no more than 10 ìg/kg benzo[a]pyrene and 20 ìg/kg benz[a]anthracene.
In addition, the wood used must not have been treated with chemical substances during the six months immediately prior to felling, unless it can be demonstrated that the treatment does not give rise to potentially toxic substances during combustion.
According to UK-based food safety company RSSL, the new regulation will help to establish a list of approved primary products for smoke flavourings. During the first 18 months that the regulation is in force, business operators are encouraged to submit primary products for approval to the competent authority of a Member State. Applications for approval of primary smoke products must be available to the public, and food business operators must supply information to ensure the traceability of the product.
The current situation in the EU Member States concerning the authorisation of smoke flavourings is diverse. Some Member States have a very strict authorisation procedure, while others have none at all. The new regulation is designed to ensure safe products in the whole of the EU and provide clear and harmonised rules for the producers and users of smoke flavourings.