EFSA Press Release, 7 December 2006
Today EFSA launched a call for data on food colours as part of a systematic re-evaluation of all authorised food additives in the EU. EFSA has been asked by the European Commission to do this work in the interest of consumer protection, taking account of new information since the original assessments were done and giving top priority to colours. EFSA will provide scientific advice on colours from early 2007. The call for data is aimed at all parties holding important information that should be included in the re-evaluations.
To ensure a high level of consumer protection, all authorised food additives in the EU have been evaluated for their safety [see Note 1 below] and the European legislation on food additives [see Note 2 below] requires that these substances be re-evaluated where necessary in the light of new scientific information and changing conditions of use. EFSA has been mandated by the European Commission to carry out a systematic re-evaluation of authorised food additives in order to ensure that the safety of all such additives is regularly assessed taking into account most recent studies and any new evidence.
EFSA is giving top priority to colours, as requested by the Commission, because they were among the first additives to be evaluated under European legislation, and several new studies have become available since the original assessments were done. Within this framework some 45 colours are to be re-assessed by EFSA's AFC Panel [see Note 3 below] during the next months.
EFSA is looking to gather for these colours: safety data that was not considered in the original assessments; information on uses in foods, on the purity of colours and production methods. In addition to the national food safety authorities EFSA is particularly addressing this call for data to manufacturers and other stakeholders. EFSA has directly contacted third parties to request such data and has published the open call on its website at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/afc.html.
Community legislation on food additives consists of a framework Directive and three specific Directives (on colours, sweeteners and other food additives). It is based on the principle that only those additives that are explicitly authorised may be used. Prior to their authorisation, new food additives are evaluated for their safety by the
 Evaluations were originally conducted by the former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) of the European Commission.
 Directive 89/107/EEC of 21 December 1988 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning food additives authorised for use in foodstuffs intended for human consumption: see http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/additives/comm_legisl_en.htm.
 Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food