Flavours & fragrances

ingredients; the maximum amount of non-organic flavourings permitted in an organic product is 5% by weight of the product.

As Kastler notes, “the new organic regulation has a huge impact on the industry. It contains only one sentence about flavourings, and yet, it brings several changes and also leaves the door open for many questions.” EFFA in the meantime has developed a guidance document to be shared with EU institutions, national certification bodies and customers, to ensure it forms part of the ongoing conversation. Yet despite the fact that implementation of this legislation had been postponed by 12 months, due to Covid-19, it “already brings challenges with the certification bodies at national level”, says Kastler. “Because the new regulation isn’t applicable yet, they won’t provide any certifications according to the new rules, but some companies already did the transition. So we are monitoring this at the moment.” In the meantime, it’s ‘business as usual’ as far as possible at EFFA, in terms of the contributions it can make to achieve the objectives of the EU’s Green Deal, especially with regards to farm to fork. “From an association point of view,” Kastler says, “what EFFA can do is be a relevant partner for the EU institutions; the flavour industry will be impacted by these rules, so we can provide interesting insights and contribute, together with other stakeholders, to the various consultations, forums and conferences offered by the EU institutions to gather everyone’s perspectives.”

New strategy, same flavour One of the main objectives of the farm to fork strategy is to promote sustainable food consumption, facilitating the shift towards healthy, sustainable diets. Unsurprisingly, this has resonance in the flavour industry as it looks to constructively respond to policymakers’ objectives, as well as evolving consumer trends. It also means the flavour industry needs to respond in innovative ways. As Dohmen argues: “For many years, reducing sugar, salt and fat in food products has been an objective of both policymakers and food producers, but one of the main food challenges in the reformulation phase was the risk of loss of taste.” Dohmen adds, “The same happens with plant-based proteins. However, flavourings can provide a solution to this challenge by making food products with reduced salt, sugar or fat or with plant-based proteins still tasty.” Research shows that taste is, unsurprisingly, one of the main criteria for consumers when choosing a particular food product. Flavourings help to make the healthy and sustainable choice for consumers

Ingredients Insight /

easier, ensuring that food products that are part of a conscious diet do not compromise on taste. Kastler explains, “regarding the production of flavourings themselves, over the last few years the International Organisation of the Flavour Industry [IOFI] together with the International Fragrance Association [IFRA], have developed the IFRA-IOFI Sustainability Charter.”

In essence, the charter is a common and voluntary initiative, outlining the flavour and fragrance industries’ commitment to sustainability, and also offering advice, sharing best practices, and reporting progress.

“For many years, reducing sugar, salt and fat in food products has been an objective of both policymakers and food producers, but one of the main food challenges in the reformulation phase was the risk of loss of taste.”

Bo Dohmen The concern of comitology

In the meantime, and of more immediate concern, is the ongoing debate over comitology reform – the EFFA, for its part, recently issued a statement going so far as to claim it threatens innovation. In an EU context, comitology refers to a process by which EU law is modified or adjusted, as it takes place within so-called comitology committees that are chaired by the European Commission. While the official term for the process is committee procedure, comitology committees form part of the EU’s broader system of committees that assist in the making, adoption, and implementation of EU law.

“The core of this discussion is where the role of science is placed,” says Kastler. “In EFFA’s view, science has to play a predominant role, and the authorisation of safe products has to originate from the best available science from the EU’s own risk assessment agencies.”

From a policy perspective, Dohmen says the current comitology reform, in particular amendments five, seven, and 16, “would enable a minority of member states to block authorisations of products, even if their safety is confirmed by the EU’s own risk assessment agencies”. Which of course undermines science-based decision- making processes, “making authorisations of certain products less predictable and tied to political and non-scientific decisions”.

The elephant in the room

The European Parliament adopted the reform report in plenary in December 2020, with the report due to


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