E for "authorized as safe" by EU
Did you know that E means that the food has been examined the European Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on its safety and authorized? This code/E-numbering system has been created to protect us. Only additives for which the proposed uses were considered safe are authorized, receive an E-number and are on the list. With our food habits always evolving, the EFSA (European Food Safety Administration) uses the codes to check that the average daily intake of one ingredient in our diets doesn’t exceed the acceptable threshold. The regulation is very strict on the quantities used and the thresholds are always fixed way below what’s considered safe. These regulations evolve according to our new food habits and are re-evaluated often. The European Commission has asked the EFSA to re-evaluate all additives (used before January 2009) by December 2020 in light of the latest scientific information.
Replacing the E-numbers like for example E250 or nitrate, present in meat, by beetroot makes the product less scary for consumers. But it comes with many disadvantages. First it makes it more difficult for regulators to protect us against excessive daily intake as the same ingredient has many different names. Second, extracts are often less sustainable than Clean chemistry as they use a lot of resources to be produced and standardized…
Color, Preserve, Emulsify
There are different functional categories of E-numbers: colourants, antioxidants, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents... (in total 26) They all have a technological function either to preserve our food from spoilage or to improve its appeal and texture. For example, mannitol (E421) is an anti-caking agent also found in seaweed and mushrooms, or curcumin (E100) is a natural yellow colour that is made from curcuma-root.
Some more examples of E-numbers
E-numbers are often perceived as harmful chemicals. But some E-numbers have the same chemical formula as found in nature. For example, the chemical name for E300 is ascorbic acid. In an ingredient list, additives can be labelled either with their specific name or with their E-number, together with their function (eg emulsifier, preservative,…). Not every ones knows that ascorbic acid is also naturally present in some fruits and vegetables, and is then also known as vitamin C.
Natural food products are inherently built from chemicals. Take an egg, for example, containing by nature the colorants E160c, E160a et E101 and E322, …
E-NUMBERS IN OUR CLEAN LABEL
For our clean label, we decided to simplify the list of E-numbers we use. But some were truly essential to maintain our TASTE balance and we decided to keep them in the list of authorized ingredients. Here are a few examples.
- Carotenes (E160a) is a colorant that gives a nice color to margarines. They are either extracted from carrots, or produced by the fermentation of a mold, Blakeslea Trispora.
- E450 and E500 are raising agents used in donuts for example. You probably already used them in your homemade recipes as they are the two ingredients of baking powder. Under our soon to be new definition of Clean Label, these raising agents will not be permitted any more.
- Lecithin (E322) is an emulsifier, meaning it makes it possible to mix water and oil in an homogeneous emulsion. It is present in nature, like in egg yolk or in soybeans. When you make a mayonnaise, the egg plays the role of an emulsifier! We use Lecithin in our fat spreads or in our bakery products containing chocolate.
For all our products, we follow all the new regulations and food trends but we are also an active R&D player in the quest for new better food solutions.