Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Note: This page is Copyright - see Copyright notice. Last updated: 17 May, 2018

EU Legislation: Improvement Agents - Flavourings

(compiled by Dr David Jukes)

On this page:
  • EU Law - listing of the legislation controlling food flavourings in the EU with links to EU documents


Although functionally flavourings can be considered as a category of food additive, from a legislative perspective it has been easier to deal with them separately. This recognises that the quantities used for flavouring are significantly less than for most additives (and hence the toxicity issues are different) and that the number of chemicals used as flavourings is much larger than the combined number for all other additives.

The current legislation on 'food flavourings' is however part of the legislative framework created for 'Improvement Agents' by EU legislation adopted in 2008. Other elements are 'food additives' and 'food enzymes' as indicated in this figure: [for information on 'Food Additives', see the separate page: Food Additives]

When adopted, Regulation 1334/2008 created an updated framework for the legislation on flavourings. The Regulation contained an Annex headed 'Annex I: Community list of flavourings and source materials approved for use in and on foods'. However initially this Annex was empty and it was therefore necessary to update the listing of approved flavouring substances and amend Regulation 1334/2008 to provide the listing of approved substances. This happened in in 2012 with the adoption of Regulation 872/2012. In most cases these were transferred from the previous listing in other legislation. The listing has subsequently been amended to take into account technical and scientific advances.

For the purposes of the legislation, 'flavourings' are defined as follows:

‘flavourings’ shall mean products:

(i) not intended to be consumed as such, which are added to food in order to impart or modify odour and/or taste;
(ii) made or consisting of the following categories: flavouring substances, flavouring preparations, thermal process flavourings, smoke flavourings, flavour precursors or other flavourings or mixtures thereof.

Note that this refers to other sub-categories each of which is defined in the Regulation.

EU Law


A consolidated text is available which incorporates the amendments into the text of the Regulation. See: Regulation 1334/2008 - Consolidated Text (May 2016)

This page was first provided on 15 July 2016

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