Marinalg Responds to EFSA Opinion on Carrageenan & PES

EFSA Re-Affirms Safety of Carrageenan & PES in Food
Recommends More Information Needed to Address Gaps and Confirm Temporary ADI

April 27, 2018 – Today, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its final opinion on the re-evaluation of carrageenan and processed Eucheuma seaweed (PES, also known as semi-refined carrageenan). While the opinion, which was adopted by EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS Panel), reaffirmed the safety of both seaweed-derived ingredients, the Panel identified several areas where additional data is needed. This re-evaluation process, which is currently being undertaken for all food additives approved for use in Europe, demonstrates the critical role EFSA plays in ensuring a safe food supply.

Carrageenan and PES are seaweed-derived ingredients used as thickeners and gelling agents to enhance foods and beverages. They are also used as a stabilizer to prevent nutrients and other ingredients from separating in a product and ensure appropriate nutrient delivery. Numerous scientific and regulatory bodies, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, the Scientific Committee on Food, which is the predecessor to EFSA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Health Canada, have determined carrageenan and PES to be safe and permitted for use in foods. Marinalg acknowledges the ANS Panel’s recommendations to obtain all available data to uphold the now temporary acceptable daily intake level (ADI) for carrageenan and PES.

In this recent opinion, the ANS Panel highlighted some safety aspects of carrageenan and PES, noting no concerns with respect to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. In addition, the Panel reported that, while several studies related to the ingredients’ potential impact on the human gut require additional research, animal studies suggesting gastrointestinal effects cannot be extrapolated, and therefore considered relevant to humans.

However, the ANS Panel also noted uncertainties regarding the chemistry, the exposure assessment, and the biological and toxicological data, and therefore proposed strengthening its database of foods containing these substances over the next five years to address these questions. As a result, the Panel recommended the current group ADI for carrageenan and PES be considered temporary while additional information is gathered. It will now be up to the European Commission and Member States to evaluate these recommendations and decide on next steps.

Marinalg International supports the EFSA re-evaluation process, which is conducted for all additives used in food and helps ensure a safe food supply. In the opinion, EFSA has provided an indication on what is needed to uphold the ADI for carrageenan and PES. Marinalg is fully committed to addressing the outcomes of the opinion and is confident that by working with interested stakeholders, the industry will be able to provide the information needed to address all gaps and confirm the temporary ADI.

Learn more about the functions, benefits, and history of carrageenan and PES here.

Marinalg International is a global association representing companies that produce seaweed-derived hydrocolloids, including carrageenan and processed Eucheuma seaweed. Marinalg member products are safely used in a variety of applications, including food, beverages, animal feed, consumer products and pharmaceutical applications. Marinalg supports the use of sound science in the safety evaluation of seaweed-derived hydrocolloids.