Smoking is traditionally used to help preserve certain foods such as fish, meat and dairy products. Over time, changes to the flavour of foods brought about by smoking have become more important than its preservative function. Smoke flavourings are liquids produced by thermal degradation of wood. They are added to a range of different foods, including those which are not traditionally smoked.
The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the safety of the smoke flavourings which are used or intended for use in the EU. EFSA does this on the basis of applications from companies for market authorisation. Based on EFSA’s opinions, the European Commission is to establish a list of smoke flavouring products authorised for use in foods. By the end of 2009, EFSA’s CEF Panel is due to adopt opinions on eleven different smoke flavourings which are currently on the market.
If the Panel identifies any safety concerns when assessing individual smoke flavourings, it highlights these in its opinions. So far the Panel has expressed safety concerns over the uses and use levels of the flavouring products Zesti Smoke Code 10, Unismoke and Scansmoke PB1110 due to limited toxicological data. The Panel also found that the use of Smoke Concentrate 809045 was not of safety concern. These conclusions are based on a further opinion which gives exposure estimates for all eleven smoke flavourings, using several different calculation methods.
The Guidance on submission of applications published in 2004 lays down the types of information that companies should provide to enable EFSA to carry out the safety assessments, including the administrative and technical data and the toxicological tests required.