The panel ruled that there is insufficient evidence on the safety of glycerol esters of tall oil rosin (GETOR) for it to reach a conclusion.
Georgia Pacific Chemicals, a manufacturer of GETOR, had requested that the substance be authorised as an additive at up to a level of 100mg/l in drinks.
It explained that the ingredient could be used to adjust the density of citrus oils used as flavouring agents so as to prevent them from rising to the surface and creating an unpalatable product. Because of its tendency to produce haze its potential reach is likely to be limited to cloudy soft drinks and certain spirits.
Derived from a by-product of paper pulp processing that then undergoes acidification and fractional distillation, the manufacturer argued that GETOR are chemically equivalent to glycerol esters of wood rosin (GEWR), which are already approved for use in drinks.
The company said tall oil rosin only differs from the wood rosin by the part of the pine from which it is obtained and to some degree by the commercial method of production.
But this was not enough for the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food.
The panel said it could not conclude that GETOR is chemically equiavalent to GEWR and therefore could not use data on one to evaluate the other.
As for the data on GETOR itself, the panel said it is not sufficient for a conclusion to be reached on its safety.
The panel said: “The results of two acute oral toxicity studies are the only toxicological data available for GETOR. Overall the Panel concluded that the chemical and toxicological characterisation of GETOR is not adequate.”