EFSA reviews safety of glutamates added to food

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EFSA reviewed safety of glutamic acid and glutamates used as food additives. The Authority also concluded that estimated dietary exposure to glutamic acid and glutamates may exceed not only the safe level but also doses associated with adverse effects in humans for some population groups.

Glutamic acid and its salts (E 620-625), commonly referred to as glutamates, are authorised food additives in the European Union. They are added to a wide range of foods to enhance their flavour by giving them a ”savoury” or “meaty” taste.

EFSA re-assessed the safety of glutamates used as food additives and derived a group acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 30 mg/kg body weight per day for all six of these additives. The safe level of intake is based on the highest dose at which scientists observed no adverse effects on test animals in toxicity studies.

Dr Claude Lambré, member of EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food, and Chair of the working group tasked with the re-evaluation, said: “Based on the available evidence, we are confident that the newly derived group ADI for glutamic acid and glutamates is protective of consumers’ health, as it is below the doses that have been associated with certain effects in humans, such as headache, raised blood pressure and increased insulin levels.”

Currently, there is no numerical safe intake level (ADI) specified for glutamic acid and glutamates used as food additives in the EU.

In the EU the addition of glutamates is generally permitted up to a maximum level of 10 g/kg of food. In salt substitutes, seasonings and condiments, there is no numerical maximum permitted level for glutamates and they must be used in line with good manufacturing practices.

Source: EFSA

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