Nav: Home

Mapping food color regulations in the EU and the US

April 12, 2017

New study suggests that EU and the US companies and consumers have much to gain from closer cooperation on food colouring.

How we perceive what we eat and drink is greatly influenced by food's colour, which can be either natural, or enhanced in the production process. The JRC, in close collaboration with the University of Stuttgart, has reviewed legislation applicable to food colours in the EU and the US. The review highlights the most important differences and suggests ways to increase regulatory coherence.

Rules on food colorants differ

The history of colouring food contains many examples of excessive use of toxic and harmful substances. Today, food colours are probably the most strictly regulated food ingredients all over the world, often requiring pre-market approvals and authorisations. However, the rules are not the same everywhere and therefore exporters need to reformulate their products for the intended marketplace and demonstrate compliance with the applicable rules. That creates an additional cost and could be considered as a barrier to trade. Failure to comply with these rules may give rise to claims of adulteration, misbranding or non-compliance and products may be rejected at the border or recalled from the market.

Comparing food colour regulations in the EU and the US

Scientists at the JRC and Stuttgart University have compared food colour regulations in the EU and the US in detail to find ways to reduce such barriers to trade. By overlaying the two sets of rules they illustrate some of the challenges exporters of processed foods are confronted with.

Many food colours approved in the EU are not approved in the US and vice versa. Restrictions for use are set for over 600 different colour additive-food category combinations in the EU while there are hardly any regulatory maximum limits set in the US. On the other hand, the US does not allow adding colour at all in over 300 foods while only few food categories are entirely excluded in the EU. In addition, there is variation in food colour specifications and labelling requirements and the US requires all synthetic colour batches are certified by its administration before use.

The review concludes that regulatory coherence could be improved by aligning regulations better with the internationally agreed specifications and safety assessments. Also mutual recognition agreements were considered as a viable option for reducing trade barriers. Finally, the trend towards colours from natural sources in the EU, and increasingly in the US, is expected to gradually reduce the need for reformulation of products for the export market on both continents.

As the study suggests, closer cooperation between regulators can be beneficial for consumers, businesses and regulators alike. Regulatory cooperation is not a new concept, and the EU is pursuing such regulatory dialogues with many partners around the globe, with two clear principles in mind:
  • One, cooperation is only possible if the level of protection for citizens improves, or at least stays the same.

  • Two, everything we do must be fully transparent and respect the independence of our regulators and of our respective domestic regulatory processes.

Only in this way, regulatory cooperation can bring real benefits on the one hand, and gain appreciation of our citizens.
-end-


European Commission Joint Research Centre

Related Consumers Articles:

'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.
Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.
Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.
When consumers don't want to talk about what they bought
One of the joys of shopping for many people is the opportunity to brag about their purchases to friends and others.
As consumers, how do we decide what's 'best' when it's not clear?
Imagine you are choosing between two resorts for your island vacation.
Effects of ethnocentrism on consumers
Aitor Calvo-Turrientes, winner of the prize for End-of-Degree Project in Sustainability in 2015 awarded by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the author of the paper 'The valuation and purchase of food products that combine local, regional and traditional features: The influence of consumer ethnocentrism,' published recently by the prestigious journal Food Quality and Preference.
Organic consumers mean business
Groundbreaking research from Aarhus BSS shows that organic consumers are standing fast and are buying more and more organic products following an increasingly predictable pattern.
Perfect mannequins a turnoff for some consumers
Mannequins' long legs, tiny waistlines and perfect busts can sour some shoppers on the products they're wearing, especially consumers who don't like the look of their own bodies.
What's in a name? For young Chinese consumers, it's about culture mixing
Younger, more cosmopolitan Chinese consumers tend to favor brand translations that keep both the sound and the meaning of the original name, says U. of I. business professor and branding expert Carlos J.
Why do consumers participate in 'green' programs?
From recycling to reusing hotel towels, consumers who participate in a company's 'green' program are more satisfied with its service, finds a new study co-led by a Michigan State University researcher.
More Consumers News and Consumers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 2: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day
It began with a tweet: "EVERY DAY IS IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS DAY." Carl Zimmer – tweet author, acclaimed science writer and friend of the show – tells the story of a mysterious, deadly illness that struck 19th century Vienna, and the ill-fated hero who uncovered its cure ... and gave us our best weapon (so far) against the current global pandemic. This episode was reported and produced with help from Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.