Safety of annatto E and the exposure to the annatto colouring principles bixin and norbixin (E 160b) when used as a food additive

Maged Younes, Laurence Castle, Karl-Heinz Engel, Paul Fowler, Maria Jose Frutos Fernandez, Peter Fürst, Rainer Gürtler, Ursula Gundert-Remy, Trine Husøy, Wim Mennes, Peter Moldeus, Agneta Oskarsson, Romina Shah, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Detlef Wölfle, Riccardo Crebelli, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Alexandra Tard, Gabriele Aquilina, EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings (FAF)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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Abstract

The Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Flavouring (FAF) provides a scientific opinion on the safety evaluation of annatto E and an exposure assessment of the annatto colouring principles bixin and norbixin (E 160b) when used as a food additive, taking into account new proposed uses and use levels. In 2016, the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) adopted a scientific opinion on the safety of annatto extracts (E 160b) as a food additive. In that opinion, the Panel concluded that the toxicological database was sufficient to derive an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 6 mg bixin/kg body weight (bw) per day and an ADI of 0.3 mg norbixin/kg bw per day. The Panel was not able to conclude on the safety of annatto E. Dietary exposure for annatto (E 160b), bixin- and norbixin-based annatto extracts was estimated taking into account the maximum permitted levels (MPLs) as set in the Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008, the use levels provided by food industry as well as the proposed use levels from an applicant for an extension of use. Exposure estimates for bixin were below the ADI for all population groups and for all refined exposure scenarios, including the proposed extension of use. For norbixin, exceedance was observed for the extension of use at the 95th percentile for some population groups. In the 2017 EFSA statement related to the exposure assessment of colouring principles bixin and norbixin considering new proposed uses and use levels, the dietary exposure for bixin did not exceed the ADI. For norbixin, dietary exposure exceeded the ADI at the high level (95th percentile) for toddlers and children. In the current opinion, the Panel concluded that food colour annatto E does not raise concern for genotoxicity. Accordingly, the ADIs established in 2016 for the two colouring principles bixin and norbixin can be applied also to the annatto E. For bixin, none of the exposure estimates exceeded the ADI of 6 mg/kg bw per day. For norbixin, the ADI was reached at the high level (p95) for toddlers in the refined exposure assessment scenarios in one country. Considering the uncertainties and the very likely overestimation of the exposure, the Panel concluded that the level of exposure does not raise a health concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pagese05626
Number of pages28
Volume17
No.3
Specialist publicationEFSA Journal
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • annatto extracts
  • E 160b
  • bixin
  • norbixin
  • comet assay
  • exposure assessment

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