EFSA delays judgement on sucrose ester additive use in bakery and drinks

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: Fatty acids, Flavor, Food additive

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is requesting additional data from the food industry on the use of sucrose esters derived from fatty acids (E473), a food additive used in baked goods and flavoured drinks.

The instruction follows a previous public call made back in 2014 for data on their reported use by food manufacturers, to better assess dietary exposure.

EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) concluded though that the exposure to E473 exceeded the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 40 milligrams/kilogram/body weight/day (mg/kg/bw/day) for population groups including toddlers and children.

“Assuming that sucrose esters of fatty acids (E 473) is not used in the 24 food categories where data was not provided, the current exposure estimates very likely overestimate the real exposure to sucrose esters of fatty acids (E 473),” ​the ruling states.

“Thus, the Panel recommends the collection of reported use levels from industry for the food categories contributing most to the exposure to sucrose esters of fatty acids (E 473): fine bakery wares and certain types of flavoured drinks.”

Public call for data outcomes

Information gathered from 2014’s public call meant the Panel considered 13 out of the 37 food categories in the refined exposure assessment, which E473 had previously been authorised.

In addition, due to consumers preferring certain brands of flavoured drink, the Panel also included brand-loyal refined exposure estimates for the risk assessment.

Data provided by German flavour firm Dreidoppel, FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) and the International Chewing Gum Association (ICGA) amongst others was used to calculate the highest mean refined exposure estimate at 55 mg/kg/bw per day in toddlers (12–35 months).

The highest 95th​ percentile of exposure was 124 mg/kg/bw per day in children aged 3–9 years. Both figures assumed a brand-loyal scenario.

“The Panel recommends the collection of more detailed data (reported use levels from industry) for the food category contributing most to the exposure to E 473: fine bakery wares as well as monitoring data for certain type of flavoured drinks,”​ the ruling concluded.  

“These data should allow for a more precise mapping of use levels to foods as recorded in the EFSA Comprehensive Database, and thus result in more realistic estimates of exposure to E 473 via food.”

E473 use in food

Sucrose esters display unrivalled emulsion properties that make them suitable for mayonnaises, dressings, aerating dairy desserts like ice cream, mousse and whipped topping, and cereal bars and other sticky high-sugar products.

Those produced by Dutch sucrose ester specialist Sisterna for example, reduce the density of batters used in ice cream ones by permitting more air to enter them.

The resultant cone is thus more easily mouldable whilst negating the need for any raising agents normally used in the recipe.

In addition, the additive can be used to enable better flavour outcomes by improving the release of taste sensations and are mainly used in dairy-based drinks, flavoured and/or fermented (e.g., chocolate milk, cocoa, eggnog, drinking yoghurt and whey-based drinks).

Health concerns mainly stem from the production of acetaldehyde, an impurity produced during the manufacture of this additive that have been linked to certain cancer types.

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