Food Additives


Food additives are substances used for a variety of reasons - such as preservation, colouring, sweetening, etc.- during the preparation of food. The European Union legislation defines them as "any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value". By being added to food for technological purposes in its manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage, food additives become a component of the food.

The safety of all food additives that are currently authorised has been assessed by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and/or the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Only additives for which the proposed uses were considered safe are on the EU list. As food additives undergo a heavy risk assessment procedure, they can be considered the safest ingredients in our food.

In the European Union all food additives are identified by an E number (E = ’European’). Food additives are always included in the ingredient lists of foods in which they are used. Product labels must identify both the function of the additive in the finished food and the specific substance used either by referring to the appropriate E number or its name.


Detailed information can be found:

- EC:

- EC Food Additives Database


- Administrative guidance for the preparation of applications on food improvement agents (food enzymes, food additives and food flavourings)

- WHO:

What do I offer

- Anticipating the outcome of the (re)evaluation of a dossier by EFSA.

- Actual building a dossier for an (re)application.

- Smart thinking of designing a strategy for an (re)application.

- Collaboration in (EU) projects as an SME.


Expertise with the topic


- My PhD topic 1985-1989 was “Toxicology of the food additives BHA and BHT”.

- In 2016, Dr. Coamhan Logue got his PhD on “A biomarker approach for the investigation of the intakes of low-calorie sweeteners”.

- Ample of scientific papers in the area of food additives.

- Many publications in the area of antioxidants.


Some key publications in the area


  • Logue C., Dowey L.R.C., Verhagen H. Strain JJ, O’Mahony M, Kapsokefalou M, Athanasatou A, Gallagher AM (2020). A novel urinary biomarker approach reveals widespread exposure to multiple low-calorie sweeteners in adults. The Journal of Nutrition (in press).
  • Logue C., Dowey L.R.C., Strain J.J., Verhagen H., Gallagher A.M. (2017). Application of Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry To Determine Urinary Concentrations of Five Commonly Used Low-Calorie Sweeteners: A Novel Biomarker Approach for Assessing Recent Intakes? J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Jun 7;65(22):4516-4525. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b00404
  • Logue C., Peters S.J.A.C., Gallagher A.M., Verhagen H. (2015). Perspectives on low calorie intense sweeteners with a focus on aspartame and stevia. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety 5(2): 104-112.
  • Verhagen H., Buijsse B., Jansen E., Bueno de Mesquita B. (2006). The state of antioxidant affairs. Nutrition Today, 41 (6) 244-250.
  • Verhagen H. (1996). Adverse effects of food additives, in: "Food safety and toxicity" J. de Vries (Ed), CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 121-132
  • Verhagen H., Schilderman P.A.E.L. and Kleinjans J.C.S. (1991). Butylated hydroxyanisole in perspective. Chemico‑Biological Interactions 80: 109‑134
  • Verhagen H., Furnée C., Schutte B., Blijham G.H., Bosman F., Henderson P.Th., ten Hoor F. and Klein­jans J.C.S. (1990). Dose‑dependent effects of short‑term dietary administra­tion of the food additive butylated hydroxy­anisole on cell kinetic parame­ters in the ga­stro‑intestinal tract of male Wistar rats. Carcinogenesis 11: 1461‑1468.