Food additives are substances intentionally added to foodstuffs to perform a technological function, and this could colour, sweeten, regulate pH or consistency, or help preserve foods. On the other hand, feed additives are products used in animal nutrition to affect the feed itself, on the animals, on food products obtained from the animals consuming the feed additive, or on the environment. They are used in feed for food-producing animals and pet food.

Both food and feed additives placed on the EU market shall be authorised following a scientific evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) demonstrating that the additive has no harmful effects on human health, the environment and animal health for feed additives.

Before it is consumed, food also comes in contact with many materials during its production, storage and preparation. Such materials and articles are called Food Contact Materials (FCMs) and include containers for transporting food and machinery to process food and packaging materials or kitchenware and tableware. FCMs are regulated in the European Union by a Framework with general principles of safety and inertness. This is complemented by specific measures for certain types of FCM like plastics materials or ceramics and by measures specific to certain groups of chemicals such as nanomaterials. EFSA is also the European Agency conducting the scientific evaluation of FCMs and providing advice to the European Commission.

Why is it important?

Many minerals are present in our daily food products and are used to process these foods. As an example, calcium carbonate (E170) may be used in baby food to support the calcium nutritional requirements of babies and toddlers, calcium hydroxide (E526) and calcium oxide (E529) may be used as acidity regulators, and talc (E553b) is used in the manufacture of chewing gum. A variety of industrial minerals such as bentonite (1m558i), sepiolite (E562), kaolin (E559), diatomaceous earth (E551c) and many others, also play a key role as feed additives where they may fulfil a function as technological additives such as anti-caking agent, binder, or acidity regulator.

All industrial minerals authorised as food and/or feed additives in the EU have gone through an in-depth safety assessment by EFSA and have a demonstrated technical need. These products must comply with European specifications set in Regulation, including criteria on origin and purity. The same applies to minerals used in food contact materials applications.

Our views

Health and safety are core values of the Industrial Minerals industry. We are committed to continuously improving our knowledge to ensure that safe and efficient industrial mineral products are used in the food, feed, and food contact material chain.

When industrial mineral products are being authorised or re-evaluated, IMA-Europe coordinates the industry’s response and shares with Authorities the relevant studies and data available in our EHS database to support the process. When Authorities require new studies, these are conducted jointly to avoid unnecessary duplication of tests. IMA-Europe and its members will always use Non-animal testing alternatives unless it is a legal requirement to deviate from this principle.

IMA-Europe highly values collaborations with other industry partners and constructive exchange with Authorities. Our Association is an active member of the EU Feed Chain Task Force industry. We actively contribute to EFSA workshops, public consultations, and other EU initiatives where we advocate for sound and proportional application procedures and ensure the industrial minerals sector’s specificities are well understood and considered.