Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

Providng access to food law since May 1996

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Last updated: 27 March, 2024

Improvement Agents: Food Additives

Providing access to EU and UK legislation

On this page:
  • Summary - Brief details of the chronology of developments linked to this topic
  • EU Legislation - description of the legislation controlling additives in the EU with links to EU documents
  • UK Legislation - links to the UK legislation


The adoption of a single harmonised list of food additives for the European Union has taken a long time. It can be split into 3 separate stages:

The following figure illustrates how the controls of food additives are part of the overall control of food improvement agents:

Note that for EU legislative purposes, food flavourings are not considered as food additives and are covered by separate legislation based on Regulation 1334/2008 [For details, see the separate page: Food Flavourings].

Some aspects of the chronology of the control of food additives (Stages 2 and 3) are illustrated in this figure:

For a larger version of this figure as a pdf file, Click Here

For the Commission's page on this topic, see: Food Improvement Agents.

EU Legislation

Stage 3 - Controls based on Regulation 1333/2008

For quick access - Consolidated version of Regulation 1333/2008 (July 2023)

The process for authorising food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings is provided by a 'common authorisation procedure' regulation - Regulation 1331/2008 (as amended) :

The general and the detailed controls on food additives are now contained in a single document - Regulation 1333/2008 (as amended) :

For a pdf copy of the consolidated version of Regulation 1333/2008, see: Regulation 1333/2008 (published July 2023) [Caution - this document is 346 pages long!].

A Commission guidance document is also available:

Guidance document describing the food categories in Part E of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on Food Additives (The link is to a pdf copy of Version 6 (November 2022) available on the Commission website.)

Specifications of Purity

These have been published in a separate Regulation - Regulation 231/2012 (as amended):

For a consolideted version of Regulation 231/2012, see: Regulation 231/2012 (published July 2022) [Caution - this document is 288 pages long!]

Procedural Matters

In addition, there have been the following supporting controls:

For more details on the development of these new controls, see the section below: The Development of the new EU Controls

Adding Additives to the List

UK Legislation

Brexit: Prior to the IP Completion Day (31 December 2020), the legal requirements given in the EU Regulations listed above still applied to the UK. Since IP Completion Day, the EU Regulations above have been incorporated into UK legislation but with amendments to correct deficiencies. Information on this is given below. For more details of the process of incorporating EU legislation into UK law, see the separate page: UK Food Law: EU Legislation as Amended for the UK. Provisions for the enforcement of the controls (originally the EU Regulations but now as amended) have been provided in the UK Regulations listed below. For Northern Ireland, EU rules still apply.

Requirements for implementation and enforcement are provided separately for the four parts of the United Kingdom.

1 January 2021: For interim guidance, see:

EU Legislation with links to amended for application in the UK:


Requirements for implementation and enforcement are provided separately for the four parts of the United Kingdom.

Guidance Document

Food Additives Legislation Guidance to Compliance (Published by the Food Standards Agency in October 2015, a copy is available on this site.)

Provided under the Open Government Licence. The original publication was accessed from:

This page was first provided on 29 July 1996

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.