Aluminum Lakes in Natural Food Colours (by EFSA)

The use of Aluminum Lakes as sometimes present in (some) natural colours has been evaluated by EFSA. Regulation 1333/2008 has been updated by regulation 380/2012.

What does it mean for your specific application? Do you have to change to another type of colour or can you continue using the colour(s) you currently have ? We will try to make the implications of the change in legislation a bit clearer below:

First of all as we interpreted the new legislation:
– Regulation 1333/2008 about the regulation of food additives is at this point the leading regulation
– Regulation 380/2012 is about the allowed legal intake for aluminum. This has been determined at 1 mg/kg body weight per week
– Regulation 2008/128/EG has been suspended as per 01-12-2012…

The definition for aluminum lakes used in food colours is:

Aluminum lakes occur through a reaction between a colour (which applies to the purity demands as stipulated in the product specification) with the aluminum oxide that is present in water. The aluminum oxide is usually freshly prepared, dried material, that has been obtained through a reaction between aluminum sulfate or aluminum chloride with sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, calcium hydrogen carbonate or ammoniac. After the forming of the lake the product is being filtered down with water and then dried. In the end-product some non converted aluminum oxide can still be present.

We will take the legislation which comes into place from the 1st of August 2014, as a starting point as with these regulations we will have to work in the future. The legislation states:

“From the 1st of August 2014 only aluminum lakes prepared from the colours listed below are allowed. But, only in those food categories, where provisions on maximum limits on aluminum coming from lakes are explicitly stated”.

E 100 Curcumin
E 102 Tartrazine
E 104 Quinoline Yellow
E 110 Sunset Yellow FCF/Orange Yellow S
E 120 Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines
E 122 Azorubine, Carmoisine
E 123 Amaranth
E 124 Ponceau 4R, Cochineal Red A
E 127 Erythrosine
E 129 Allura Red AC
E 131 Patent Blue V
E 132 Indigotine, Indigo carmine
E 133 Brilliant Blue FCF
E 141 Copper complexes of chlorophylls and chlorophyllins
E 142 Green S
E 151 Brilliant Black BN, Black PN
E 155 Brown HT
E 163 Anthocyanins
E 180 Litholrubine BK’

Then there is an overview per application where colours may be used, which is divided as follows:

– Group II: colours at quantum satis level with a maximum of aluminum lakes after 1/8/2014

– Group III: colours with a combined maximum for aluminum lakes after 1/8/2014

– And in some cases specific levels per application per colour.

Group II: Food colours authorised at quantum satis level:

E 101 Riboflavins
E 140 Chlorophylls, chlorophyllins
E 141 Copper complexes of chlorophylls and chlorophyllins
E 150a Plain caramel
E 150b Caustic sulphite caramel
E 150c Ammonia caramel
E 150d Sulphite ammonia caramel
E 153 Vegetable carbon
E 160a Carotenes
E 160c Paprika extract, capsanthin, capsorubin
E 162 Beetroot Red, betanin
E 163 Anthocyanins
E 170 Calcium carbonate
E 171 Titanium dioxide
E 172 Iron oxides and hydroxides

Group III: Food colours with combined maximum limits:

E 100 Curcumin
E 102 Tartrazine
E 104 Quinoline Yellow
E 110 Sunset yellow FCF/Orange yellow S
E 120 Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines
E 122 Azorubine, Carmoisine
E 124 Ponceau 4R, Cochineal red A
E 129 Allura red AC
E 131 Patent Blue V
E 132 Indigotine, Indigo carmine
E 133 Brilliant Blue FCF
E 142 Green S
E 151 Brilliant black BN, Black BN
E 155 Brown HT
E 160e Beta-apo-8′-carotenal (C 30)
E 161b Lutein

Then the legislation states different categories of applications.

For example:

Category 03 Ice cream:
Per 1st of August 2014 there is a maximum of 30 mg Aluminum/kg Ice cream from all aluminum lakes allowed.

Category 05.2 Candy / Confectionery:
Per 1st of August 2014 the maximum allowed aluminum obtained through all aluminum lakes has been determined at 70 mg Aluminum/kg Candy, this used to be unlimited!

Category 07.2 Bakery ingredients :
Per 1st of August 2014 there is a maximum of 5 mg Aluminum/kg Bakery obtained through E120 allowed were other lakes are not allowed.

Category 08.2.1/08.2.2 Non heat treated/heat treated meat:
Per 1st of August 2014 the maximum allowed aluminum obtained through E120 has been determined at 1,5 mg Aluminum/kg meat, this maximum used to be 100 mg/kg.