EFSA scientific opinion clarifies position for Annatto (E160b)

On 24 August, EFSA published its Scientific Opinion on “The safety of annatto extracts (E 160b) as a food additive”, adopted on 29 June 2016:

EFSA evaluated positively and accepted as safe four out of five of the annatto extracts currently on the market on the basis of data submitted by the industry.

NATCOL welcomes EFSA’s findings as it recognises the need to amend the current EU annatto extracts specifications to better reflect the products that are on the market today.

EFSA recommends the specifications of the existing EU authorised annatto extracts (E 160b (i), (ii), (iii)) be replaced with more refined specifications aligning also with JECFA.

A proposal for new specifications of annatto extracts is presently being developed by NATCOL. These new specifications will not have any impact on the labelling of these extracts nor will they require reformulation by users of these food colours.

This is a very successful outcome for the industry and reflects all the efforts NATCOL put into this.

The current authorised provisions for E 160b Annatto, Bixin, Norbixin

E 160b(i) Solvent‐extracted bixin and norbixin

E 160b (ii) Alkali-extracted annatto

The future provisions for E 160b Annatto extracts :

→ E 160b (i) Annatto extracts, bixin-based

Solvent-extracted bixin (Annatto B)
(INS 160b (i) – JECFA 2015)

→ E 160b (ii) Annatto extracts, norbixin-based

Solvent-extracted norbixin (Annatto C)
(INS 160b (ii) – JECFA 2015)
Alkali-processed norbixin, acid precipitated (Annatto F)
(INS 160b (ii) – JECFA 2007)
Alkali-processed norbixin, not acid precipitated (Annatto G)
(INS 160b (ii) – JECFA 2007)

EFSA could not however assess the safety of the aqueous-processed bixin (Annatto E) (INS 160b (i) – JECFA 2007). The industry is discussing and currently taking a position on follow-up actions.