EU Rules

EU Rules

All additives in the EU must be authorised and listed with conditions of use in the EU's positive list based on:

  • A safety assessment

  • The technological need

  • Ensuring that use of the additive will not mislead consumers

Regulation EC 1333/2008 sets the rules on food additives: definitions, conditions of use, labelling and procedures.

It contains:

  • Technological functions of food additives: Annex I

  • Union list of food additives approved for use in food additives and conditions of use: Annex II

  • Union list of food additives approved for use in food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings, and their conditions of use.: Annex III

  • Traditional foods for which certain Member States may continue to prohibit the use of certain categories of food additives: Annex IV

  • Additives labelling information for certain food colours: Annex V

Commission procedure

The Commission will change the EU lists of food additives with regulations through regulatory procedure with scrutiny (Decision 1999/468/EC).

Producers must inform the Commission of new information which may affect the safety assessment of the food additive.

Rules for use of additives in food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings and nutrients

The list of authorised food additives approved for use in food additives, enzymes and flavourings can be found in the Annex of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1130/2011 which amends Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. The additives approved for use in flavourings can be found in part 4 of this Annex.


Food additives must comply with specifications which should include information to adequately identify the food additive, including origin, and to describe the acceptable criteria of purity.

Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 laid down specifications for food additives listed in Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008.

Guidance Documents

  • Guidance notes on the classification of food extracts with colouring properties - On the 29th November 2013 the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health endorsed the Guidance notes providing a tool for classification when considering whether a substance is a colour (i.e. a food additive) or not.
  • Guidance document describing the food categories in Part E of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on Food Additives - The guidance document describing the food categories was elaborated by Commission services after consultation with the Member States' experts on food additives and the relevant stakeholders. The descriptions of the categories can be useful for Member State control authorities and food industry to assure correct implementation of the food additives legislation.