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Glutamates and food

(July 2017)

FSANZ is aware of the recently published scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on glutamic acid and glutamates added to food.

The opinion specifically looked at the safety of glutamic acid (E 620), sodium glutamate (E 621), potassium glutamate (E 622), calcium glutamate (E 623), ammonium glutamate (E 624) and magnesium glutamate (E 625) as food additives.

There is currently no established acceptable daily intake (ADI) for glutamic acid and glutamates as a food additive in the EU, Australia and New Zealand or by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). This occurs when the intake of the food additive arising from its use in food is not considered to represent a health concern.

However, in their opinion, EFSA has derived an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 30 mg/kg body weight and recommended a review of the maximum permitted levels for these food additives by the European Commission.

FSANZ is reviewing the opinion to determine whether any changes are required to the Food Standards Code.

Background

Glutamic acid is an amino acid, naturally produced in humans and occurring in free form, for example, in tomatoes, soy sauce or certain cheeses.

They are added to a wide range of foods to enhance their flavour by giving them a “savoury” or “meaty” taste.

Current permissions in Australia and New Zealand

Food additives are approved for use in Australia and New Zealand only if it can be shown no harmful effects are likely to result from their use.  FSANZ conducts pre-market safety assessments on all food additives and monitors relevant scientific developments.

Glutamic acid and glutamates (E 620-625) are authorised food additives in the EU and Australia and New Zealand in line with good manufacturing practice (GMP). This means that a food manufacturer can use a food additive only up to the limit that achieves its specific purpose.

Additional information

EFSA reviews safety of glutamates added to food (July 2017)

FSANZ: Additives overview

JECFA: Acceptable daily intake database

 

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