European Parliament and Council Directives 94/35/EC, 94/36/EC and 95/2/EC require each Member State to monitor the consumption and usage of food additives. The Commission is required to submit a report on this monitoring exercise to the European Parliament and Council.
Ten Member States and Norway, acting under EU Scientific Co-operation, have been working together to develop a tiered approach to evaluate dietary intake of food additives. The 'tiers' described are essentially additive intake estimation methods that progress in complexity and data requirements, intended to produce gradually a more accurate estimate of the additive intake. Where results of the estimates in a tier indicate that an ADI is unlikely ever to be exceeded, the additives in question are eliminated from further consideration. Resources can then be focused on the remaining additives for a more refined intake estimate. It must be emphasised that these tiers are essentially tools for establishing priorities for further monitoring.
This report represents a first attempt to obtain an overview of the dietary food additive intake in the European Union. Even if the results must be regarded as a very preliminary indication on the dietary intake of food additives, they indicate that the intake of the majority of food additives permitted today in the European Union is below the acceptable daily intake (ADI) set by the Scientific Committee on Food. This report has many limitations. Food consumption data used was insufficient to estimate accurately food additive intake leading to worst case assumptions and consequent over-estimations of intake. Also several Member States did not use the agreed methodology for estimation of additive intake, leading to lack of comparability of the collected data. This highlights the need for Member States to apply the agreed, harmonised methodology to ensure consistency of approach and to allocate adequate resources for all future intake estimations. The current study should then be repeated and a new report should be drawn up within three years from now.