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Use of flavourings: be aware of the regulations of their carriers and solvents!

Definitions and background

Carriers and solvents are used to dissolve, dilute, disperse or physically modify an additive, flavour, enzyme or nutrient to facilitate its handling, application or use. For the creation of flavours, the most commonly used carriers are propylene glycol, ethanol, triacetin, vegetable oils, maltodextrin or water.

While there are no restrictions on the presence of water or vegetable oils in finished products, not all carriers are unrestricted! Their use is subject to strict regulations in Europe, which define limit values for these components in the finished product, leading to the definition of a maximum dosage for each flavouring and for each type of foodstuff.

What are the regulatory limits for the use of carriers and solvents?

Propylene glycol (E 1520) is widely used in water-soluble flavours. It allows the solubilisation of many flavouring substances, is rather cheap, has a low volatility and confers a good protection of the most volatile compounds. However, it must not be present at more than 3 g/kg in foodstuffs, and 1 g/l in beverages with the exception of cream liqueurs, individually or in combination with triethyl citrate, diacetin and/or triacetin (EC Regulation 1333/2008, Annex 3 Part 4).

Triacetin (E 1518) is also an excellent solvent and is widely used in the formulation of fat-soluble flavours. Regarding its maximum values in the regulation, it follows the same rules as propylene glycol, individually or in combination with triethyl citrate, diacetin and/or propylene glycol.

Benzyl alcohol (E 1519) is a more complex case. It is an excellent solvent and can also be used as a flavouring substance. When used as a flavouring substance, it is not limited in quantity in the finished product. However, as a solvent, it can only be used in very specific applications such as certain alcoholic beverages (liqueurs, aromatised wines, aromatised wine-based drinks and aromatised wine-products cocktails) up to 100 mg/l in the finished product, and in confectionery, including chocolate and fine bakery wares, up to 250 mg/kg in the finished product.

How can compliance with the regulations be ensured in practice?

At flavour suppliers, the formulas established by the flavourists in the R&D department are forwarded to the regulatory department. they verify the regulatory compliance and establish the list of restricted components, in order to report their proportions in the flavouring on the technical data sheet that will be given to the end user of the flavouring. Sometimes, the regulatory department establishes the maximum dosage of the flavouring in all types of foodstuffs, but this does not take into account possible cumulative conditions and a certain number of special cases.

In the food industry, the verification of the regulatory compliance is done thanks to the technical data sheet provided by the flavouring supplier. This includes the list of restricted components. It is up to the end user of the flavouring to check that the foodstuff they produce does not exceed the limit values of each regulated compound. This is even more difficult when several flavourings are contained in the same food.

What does Flavour Manager do for you?

Flavour Manager is based on a comprehensive regulatory database with all regulatory restrictions for more than 2,500 components in flavourings, including carriers and solvents, for all types of food. A calculation algorithm, taking into account the specificities of your ingredients such as their density, allows you to check your flavourings, individually or in combination, in your foodstuffs. Without calculations, you can check your regulatory compliance and obtain the maximum dosage of your flavouring(s) in the desired foodstuffs.

If you are a flavourist, it is useful for you to avoid wasting time in long discussions with your regulatory department. You are operational and autonomous!

If you are in the food industry and you are formulating a product, you ensure that you comply with the regulations and protect your consumers.

Discover Flavour Manager