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How are colours regulated in the EU?

The European Parliament and Council Directive 94/36/EC on colours for use in foodstuffs and Commission Directive 95/45/EC, which sets out specific purity criteria for colours for use in foodstuffs are the main regulations in the European Union (EU). These regulations are implemented in the various Member States and the main provisions are to define a list of permitted colours that satisfy the specific purity criteria. The safety of all colour additives, whether of natural origin or synthetically produced, is rigorously tested and periodically re-assessed. At EU level, all colour additives approved for use have been evaluated by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), a group of scientific experts from all Member States appointed by the European Commission. In evaluating a food colour additive, the SCF allocates an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), which is the amount of a specific colour that the committee considers may be consumed safely, every day, throughout a lifetime. Only food colours evaluated in this way are given an E-number and this is an indication of European safety approval, as well as a simple and convenient way to label the permitted food colours across the range of languages in the EU. The labelling of food colours by their specific name or E-number on food ingredient labels helps consumers make informed choices.




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