Details of a proposed overhaul of the European Union's (EU) legislation on flavourings, which will cap levels of potentially harmful substances, have been released by the European Commission.

This will reform the current contrasts between national regulations, posing problems for food manufacturers operating across the EU. The proposal will also clarify legal definitions in the existing EU directive 88/3888/EEC, for instance on flavouring substances, preparations and processes, laying down stricter rules on when companies can claim their flavourings are "natural". The proposals would also insist on safety checks for new flavourings being undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

On the harmful substance caps, the proposal suggests, for instance, mg/kg limits for 1-Allyl-4-methoxybenzene - dairy products (50 mg/kg); processed fruits and vegetables (50); fish products (50); menthofuran - mints and peppermints (500); microbreath freshening confectionery (3,000); chewing gum (1,000). Other limits for hydrocyanic acid include 4-Allyl-1,2-dimethoxybenzene; Pulegone; Quassin; and 1-Allyl-3,4-methylene dioxy benzene, safrole.

See -