EU Specialty Food Ingredients News


This year again, on 7 June, it will be celebrated World Food Safety Day (WFSD), organised by FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks and to strengthen commitment to scale up food safety.

Specialty food ingredients are a key part of the food value chain. They typically preserve, texture, emulsify, colour, help processing and add an extra health dimension to produced food and, as such, they are essential to ensure the safe, healthy, nutritious and convenient food consumers like and eat every day.

European consumers enjoy some of the highest food safety standards and most advanced food regulations in the world, and all marketed ingredients must be safe for human health. Moreover, specialty food ingredients actively contribute to the safety of our food as they can be added to a food with a safety purpose. The precise nature and purpose of a food determines what specialty food ingredients are needed.

Just as different food products have different properties, so do the various specialty food ingredients; for example, food additives exhibit specific properties, even if they are designed for the same purpose, such as preservation or emulsification. Some foods are acidic and so any additives used must remain stable in acidic conditions. Other foods require heating to high temperatures, which means the food additive must be able to withstand heat.

For example, specialty food ingredients can be used to:

  • Stop foods from deteriorating too rapidly, preventing undesirable micro-organisms from growing, or by slowing down the chemical reactions that make them go off (e.g. preservatives, cultures in fermented products)
  • Maintain a food’s nutritional profile, for example by preventing vitamins, essential amino-acids and unsaturated fats from degrading (e.g. antioxidants)
  • Mitigate the formation of undesirable components such as acrylamide generated in a wide range of cooking processes (e.g. enzyme asparaginase and ingredients such as citric or ascorbic acid, calcium salts)

The differences between additives may be very subtle, but when considering the broad variety of food and drink products on the supermarket shelves, it becomes evident that such a wide variety is essential.

For more information on the contribution of specialty food ingredients to the safety and convenience of food, please read or download our factsheet available here.

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