Importing confectioneries, soft drinks, cereals and fine bakery wares into Great Britain

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has asked port health authorities (PHAs) to reiterate import requirements for confectioneries, soft drinks, cereals and fine bakery wares following instances of unauthorised food additives.

Foods imported into the UK must comply with the requirements of the market they are placed on by only using ingredients, including food additives, authorised for use in GB.

Inland, the FSA has found a number of issues with breakfast cereals, soft drinks, confectioneries and fine bakery goods containing unauthorised food additives.

According to retained EU Regulation No 1333/2008, any food additives used in a product must be authorised for use in the food category the product falls under.

Many non-compliances identified by the FSA breach this regulation, as well as maximum permitted levels in products and a range of labelling deficiencies.

Non-compliances have included:

  • Use of bleached flour/bleached white flour
  • Use of food additives that are not permitted, for example:
    • Drinks containing brominated vegetable oil (BVO)
    • Confectioneries containing mineral oil/white mineral oil
  • Use of the colour E127 – Erythrosine (shown on USA products as FD&C Red 3), which is only permitted for use in cocktail cherries but has been found in breakfast cereals, baking goods and confectioneries
  • Foods containing the ‘Southampton colours’ with levels in excess of those authorised or lacking the mandatory warning ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’:
    • Sunset yellow FCF (E110) – Food Yellow 3 or FD&C Yellow 6
    • Quinoline yellow (E104) – Food Yellow 13
    • Carmoisine (E122) – Food Red 3 or Azorubine
    • Allura red (E129) – Food Red 17 or FD&C Red 40
    • Tartrazine (E102) – Food Yellow 4 or FD&C Yellow 5
    • Ponceau 4R (E124) – Food Red 7 or Cochineal Red A
  • Food products that have not been correctly labelled with the functional class of the food additive along with either its name or E number. For example, products containing Yellow 5 should be over-stickered before being placed on the market and include information in the correct format, i.e. Colour E102 or Colour Tartrazine
  • Calcium disodium EDTA (E385) and Erythorbic acid (E315) are permitted additives for some foods, but they are not permitted in soft drinks

It is the responsibility of food business operators importing and/or selling these products to ensure they meet legislative requirements when placing them on the market, and that consumers are not misled over the true nature of the products. Importers should therefore ensure they source products compliant with food additives legislation.

PHAs will reject products if they are found to contain unauthorised additives and deemed to be non-compliant. Further information on food additives can be found at: https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-additives