Food Labelling: Processing Aids

Processing Aids 800 x 533

For the majority of ingredients, how to express them in an ingredient declaration is usually fairly straightforward.

However, for processing aids, as they are known, it is not so clear. We are sometimes asked for advice on how to handle these.

But, what is a processing aid? The EU Regulations on food additives, which also refer to processing aids, date back as far as 2008. And the EU Regulation 1333/2008 still applies in the UK.

To see the Regulations, use this link and refer to point (6):

Processing aids are used for technical reasons in manufacturing or processing foods and beverages. There may be a small residue of the aid left in the product after processing. However, it is not necessary to include them in the ingredient declaration (unless of course they contain some allergen).

The quantity of the processing aid used and the quantity still present in the product should be the minimum possible (which is known as ‘quantum satis’ in the Regulations).

Some examples of processing aids include release aids and filtration aids. An example of a release aid is when a fat is sprayed on to bakery equipment to facilitate removal of the baked items.

The Regulations give this definition for a processing aid:

• is not consumed as a food by itself;

• is intentionally used in the processing of raw materials, foods or their ingredients, to fulfil a certain technological purpose during treatment or processing;


• may result in the unintentional but technically unavoidable presence in the final product of residues of the substance or its derivatives provided they do not present any health risk and do not have any technological effect on the final product.

Similar to processing aids are carriers. These are used to dissolve the additive (or maybe to form a suspension). Again, these do not need be declared, provided the quantity used is the minimum possible.

David F. Bartley PhD

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