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NATCOL Membership

NATCOL membership benefits include

  • We have a broad Membership which reflects the wider interests of producers, customers and ultimately consumers.
  • We give members a voice in decisions that have a direct impact on the industry, and provide crucial regulatory information on topics affecting their business.
  • We offer scientific expertise and support on regulatory issues.
  • We propose an extensive network of contacts for lobbying purposes.
  • We hold regular meetings and also provide updates on breaking regulatory news and other topical issues.
  • We are strongly positioned to influence legislative processes both at EU level and globally through our international and European linkages.


NATCOL membership is open to any manufacturer, seller or distributor of Natural Colours and/or Colouring Foods and any producer of raw materials for the manufacturing of these products.

Associate membership is open to food manufacturers, users, Associations and R&D Institutes not being manufacturers of Natural Colours and/or Colouring Foods.

Membership ranges from local producers to international companies and encompasses a wide range of expertise. Since its inception, NATCOL has grown in size and in influence.


NATCOL is administered through an Executive Committee, comprising of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and other elected members. The Executive Committee meets two to three times annually or as the need arises.

The Association is managed by its Secretariat currently operating from England.

NATCOL convenes one General Meeting (AGM) per year.


To increase efficiency, Members get together in expert Working Groups to examine specific issues in detail. The current Working Groups are:

NATCOL Working Group Legislation (WGL)

The Working Group Legislation (WGL) main role is to provide for a forum for all Members to discuss any legislation which is of particular interest and/or directly impacting the natural food colours and/or colouring foods manufacturers.

The WGL aim is to anticipate legislative changes and influence decision-making processes at EU and international levels (e.g. European Commission, Codex Alimentarius, US Food and Drug Administration). It also reaches and co-ordinates common positions on regulatory issues related to food colours and colouring foods and required lobbying actions.

Working Group on Defining ‘Natural Colour’ (WGDN)

Because of an increasing consumer preference for the use of natural colours in food products, this WG was established in 2008 to review the definition of ‘Natural Colour’ to help consumers make a fair and informed choice, based on clear and informative labelling.

In 2009, NATCOL adopted two main documents: a “Position Paper on Natural Colours” and the “NATCOL Classification of Colours”. NATCOL classifies food colours into four categories based on the key discriminators (i.e. occurrence in nature, source material used, and manufacturing process employed) and suggests labelling guidelines for each category.

An updated version of the Position Paper and further clarification of the classification scheme for Natural Colours as proposed by NATCOL was posted on the website in 2013.

NATCOL was also active in the debate related to an ISO standard which intends to define “natural food ingredients” for use in B2B communication. The ISO Technical specifications on natural is expected to be issued in June 2017.

NATCOL Working Group on Colouring Foodstuffs (WGCF)

The NATCOL Working Group on Colouring Foodstuffs coordinates the NATCOL position with regard to Colouring Foodstuffs (WGCF) and their use in the colouring of foods.

This group developed NATCOL’s position on “Colouring Foodstuffs” clarifying how such products are defined, manufactured, used and labelled within the food industry.

The WGCF also brought further clarification on:

  1. how NATCOL differentiates between Colour Additives and Colouring Foodstuffs which is set out in the NATCOL Colouring Foodstuffs Decision Tree and,
  2. the criteria by which NATCOL determines if selective extraction has taken place that can be found in the NATCOL Selective Extraction Criteria document.

End November 2013, the European Commission published the “Guidance Notes on the classification of food extracts with colouring properties”. It recommends that:

  1. operators start adapting their products accordingly from 1 January 2014,
  2. all food products placed on the market after 28 November 2015 be in line with the Guidance notes and,
  3. it does not deal with labelling of Colouring Foods or labelling of foods containing colouring foods as an ingredient.

The Guidance Notes also tasks the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) with populating the Annex III (i.e. the reference values for the source materials). NATCOL fully collaborated with the JRC and the Commission (DG SANTE) in this process and end September 2015, JRC published their technical report “Provision of scientific and technical support with respect to the classification of extracts/concentrates with colouring properties either as food colours (food additives under Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008) or colouring foods”.

The publication by the Commission of the Annex III values to complete the Guidance Notes is in the 2016 DG SANTE work programme.

Read the report.

In order to respond to scientific data/information requests on colours, firstly at the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) level and more recently by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), NATCOL also works through Interest/Support Groups, which have the characteristics to be also open to non-NATCOL members and self-funded regarding testing/analytical expenses.

These Groups and their latest main achievements are :

Annatto Interest Group, was originally set up (in 1998) to generate the dossier for the JECFA evaluation of Annatto Extracts (2003 & 2006) and also focused on specific additional genotoxicity testing requested by EFSA. The final submission of data to address the outstanding EFSA questions was submitted end October 2015. The EFSA opinion on the re-evaluation of annatto extracts was issued end of August. 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. This is a very successful outcome for the industry and reflects all the efforts NATCOL put into this.

NATCOL is currently working with the Commission for answering the issues raised by ESFA.

Anthocyanin Support Group, commissioned a report on revised and comparable exposure assessment for anthocyanins from food colour additives, colouring foodstuffs and from natural occurrence in food, following the publication of the EFSA scientific opinion on Anthocyanins (E 163) including exposure assessment. The Group has now to work the characterisation and manufacturing data for the four (4) anthocyanin sources.
Beetroot Interest Group, set up to address various additional questions from EFSA as part of the re-evaluation dossier on Beetroot Red (E 162), which thanks also to the submission of an extensive Intake element, succeeded in obtaining a favourable EFSA scientific opinion published in December 2015.
Carmine Support Group, was created for the development of outstanding genotoxicity studies on Carminic Acid containing products which were submitted to EFSA, as part of the re-evaluation of Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines (E 120). The EFSA scientific opinion was published in December 2015 and outlined the need for revision of the E 120 specification amongst other recommendations.
Chlorophylls Support Group, funded the characterisation / chemical analysis on Chlorophylls (E 140i & 140ii) in response to specific requests from EFSA. The publication of the EFSA scientific opinions on E 140i & E 140ii were made in May 2015 and on E 141i & E 141ii in June 2015. The Group has now to respond the specific studies requests by EFSA in their published opinions.
Paprika Support Group, prepared the submission for the Joint FAO/WHO Experts Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) evaluation of Paprika Extracts (2008) with a successful outcome in June 2014.

The EFSA submission for the re-evaluation of Paprika Extract E 160c was completed in September 2014 with a successful scientific opinion in December 2015. The Group now has to conclude the adoption of provisions for the use and use levels of Paprika Extract INS 160c(ii) into the step process of the GSFA.

The Group presented for adoption provisions for the use and use levels of Paprika Extract INS 160c (ii) into the step process of the GSFA at the CCFA 49th.

Note: When Interest/Support Groups finalise their work they become “dormant” (e.g. on Lycopene or Curcumin).