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European Food Safety Authority to consider look at the food enzymes

18 August 2009 1,614 views No Comment

Brussels – European food watchdog EFSA has worked out guidelines to assure that the often genetically engineered food enzymes are safe. In a brand new guidance document, the food regulators specify the information that industry must provide and is required for the obligatory safety assessments.
The enzymes, which carry out chemical transformations, are added to food to perform a technological function in manufacturing, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage. Food enzymes can be used in certain cases as alternatives to food additives in order to improve the texture, appearance or nutritional value of food, as well as helping in certain food production processes (e.g. cheese making or beer brewing). Up to 40% of all food-processing enzymes are genetically engineered, and Europe has a 75% share on the global food enzyme production.
The guidance specifies that industry should provide details of the physico-chemical characteristics of the food enzyme in question as well as the toxicological tests which have been carried out. On the basis of the information provided, EFSA will address the safety of the source materials from which the food enzyme is produced (including the presence of possible impurities), the manufacturing process and dietary exposure.
With regard to the safety evaluation of food enzymes, EFSA will first evaluate those which are currently on the market in the EU. After these evaluations are complete, an EU list of authorised substances will be established by the European Commission. EFSA will then carry out safety evaluations of new food enzymes.
The need to provide this guidance arose from new EU legislation (Regulation No 1331/2008), which established a common authorisation procedure for food additives, enzymes and flavourings.

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