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Food Safety

5 Keys to Food Safety

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CLASS NAMES AND THE INTERNATIONAL NUMBERING SYSTEM FOR FOOD ADDITIVES CAC/GL 36-1989

SECTION 1 - INTRODUCTION
Background
The International Numbering System for Food Additives (INS) is intended as a harmonised naming system for
food additives as an alternative to the use of the specific name, which may be lengthy. Inclusion in the INS
does not imply approval by Codex for use as food additives. The list may include those additives that have not
been evaluated by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).
The INS does not include flavourings, which have a JECFA number as identifier, chewing gum bases, and
dietetic and nutritive additives. Enzymes which function as food additives have been included in an 1100 series.
Explanatory notes on the lay-out of the INS
The INS in numerical order (Section 3) is set out in three columns giving the identification number, the name of
the food additive and the technological purposes. The identification number usually consists of three or four
digits such as 100 for curcumins and 1001 for choline salts and esters. However, in some instances the number
is followed by an alphabetical suffix, for example, 150a identifies Caramel I – plain caramel and 150b
identifies Caramel II - sulfite caramel. The alphabetical designations are included in order to further
characterize the different classes of additives (e.g. caramel produced by different processes).
Under the column listing the name of the food additive, some additives are further subdivided by numerical
subscripts. For example, curcumins are subdivided into (i) curcumin and (ii) turmeric. These identifications
identify sub-classes (in this case of curcumins) which are covered by separate Codex specifications.
The name of the food additive is sometimes followed by an additional name in parentheses. The parenthetical
name is optional, and may be used, when necessary, to indicate another commonly associated name or
synonym for the additive, for example INS 235 Natamycin (Pimaricin). Not all synonyms are listed. The name
of an additive is sometimes, after a comma, followed by a description of the additive, for example INS 161h(i)
Zeaxanthin, synthetic.
The various technological purposes of the food additives are included in the INS in a third column. The
purposes listed are indicative rather than exhaustive. The technological purposes are grouped under more
descriptive functional class titles which are intended to be meaningful to consumers. These are listed in Section
2 along with simple definitions of the function performed.
A single food additive can often be used for a range of technological purposes in a food and it remains the
responsibility of the manufacturer to declare the most descriptive functional class in the list of ingredients.
In preparing the INS in numerical order, an effort has been made to group food additives with similar purposes
together. However, because of the extension of the list and its open nature, most of the three digit numbers have
already been allocated. Consequently, the positioning of a food additive in the list can no longer be taken as an
indication of the purpose, although this will often be the case.
The food additives that have been allocated an ADI by JECFA, may be found at:
http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/agns/jecfa_index_en.asp and http://www.who.int/ipcs/food/jecfa/en/
JECFA specifications adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission are listed in CAC/MISC 6 “Codex
Specifications for Food Additives” that can be found on Codex website:
http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/standards/9/CXA_006e.pdf
The open nature of the list
Because of its primary purpose of identification, the INS is an open list subject to the inclusion of additional
additives or removal of existing ones on an ongoing basis.


FUNCTIONAL
CLASSES

DEFINITION TECHNOLOGICAL PURPOSE
1. Acidity regulator

A food additive, which controls the acidity
or alkalinity of a food.

acidity regulator, acid, acidifier,
alkali, base, buffer, buffering
agent, pH adjusting agent

2. Anticaking agent

A food additive, which reduces the
tendency of components of food to adhere
to one another.

anticaking agent, anti-stick agent,
drying agent, dusting agent

3. Antifoaming agent

A food additive, which prevents or reduces
foaming.

antifoaming agent, defoaming
agent

4. Antioxidant

A food additive, which prolongs the shelflife
of foods by protecting against
deterioration caused by oxidation.

antioxidant, antioxidant synergist,
antibrowning agent

5. Bleaching agent

A food additive (non-flour use) used to
decolourize food. Bleaching agents do not
include pigments.

bleaching agent
6. Bulking agent

A food additive, which contributes to the
bulk of a food without contributing
significantly to its available energy value.

bulking agent, filler
7. Carbonating agent

A food additive used to provide
carbonation in a food.

carbonating agent
8. Carrier

A food additive used to dissolve, dilute,
disperse or otherwise physically modify a
food additive or nutrient without altering
its function (and without exerting any
technological effect itself) in order to
facilitate its handling, application or use of
the food additive or nutrient.

carrier, carrier solvent, nutrient
carrier, diluent for other food
additives, encapsulating agent

9. Colour

A food additive, which adds or restores
colour in a food.

colour, decorative pigment,
surface colourant

10. Colour retention
agent

A food additive, which stabilizes, retains or
intensifies the colour of a food.

colour retention agent, colour
fixative, colour stabilizer, colour
adjunct

 11. Emulsifier  

A food additive, which forms or maintains
a uniform emulsion of two or more phases
in a food.

 

emulsifier, plasticizer, dispersing
agent, surface active agent,
crystallization inhibitor, density
adjustment agent (flavouring oils
in beverages), suspension agent,
clouding agent

 12. Emulsifying salt  

A food additive, which, in the manufacture
of processed food, rearranges proteins in
order to prevent fat separation.

 emulsifying salt, melding salt
 13. Firming agent  

A food additive, which makes or keeps
tissues of fruit or vegetables firm and crisp,
or interacts with gelling agents to produce
or strengthen a gel.

 firming agent
 14. Flavour enhancer  

A food additive, which enhances the
existing taste and/or odour of a food.

 flavour enhancer, flavour synergist
 

15. Flour treatment
agent

 

A food additive, which is added to flour or
dough to improve its baking quality or
colour.

 

flour treatment agent, flour
bleaching agent, flour improver,
dough conditioner, dough
strengthening agent

 16. Foaming agent  

A food additive, which makes it possible to
form or maintain a uniform dispersion of a
gaseous phase in a liquid or solid food.

 

foaming agent, whipping agent,
aerating agent

 16. Foaming agent  

A food additive, which makes it possible to
form or maintain a uniform dispersion of a
gaseous phase in a liquid or solid food.

 

foaming agent, whipping agent,
aerating agent

 17. Gelling agent  

A food additive, which gives a food texture
through formation of a gel.

 gelling agent
18. Glazing agent

A food additive, which when applied to the
external surface of a food, imparts a shiny
appearance or provides a protective
coating.

glazing agent, sealing agent,
coating agent, surface-finishing
agent, polishing agent, filmforming
agent

19. Humectant

A food additive, which prevents food from
drying out by counteracting the effect of a
dry atmosphere.

humectant, moisture-retention
agent, wetting agent

20. Packaging gas

A food additive gas, which is introduced
into a container before, during or after
filling with food with the intention to
protect the food, for example, from
oxidation or spoilage.

packaging gas
21. Preservative

A food additive, which prolongs the shelflife
of a food by protecting against
deterioration caused by microorganisms.

preservative, antimicrobial
preservative, antimycotic agent,
bacteriophage control agent,
fungistatic agent, antimould and
antirope agent, antimicrobial
synergist

22. Propellant

A food additive gas, which expels a food
from a container.

propellant
23. Raising agent

A food additive or a combination of food
additives, which liberate(s) gas and thereby
increase(s) the volume of a dough or batter.

raising agent
24. Sequestrant

A food additive, which controls the
availability of a cation.

sequestrant
25. Stabilizer

A food additive, which makes it possible to
maintain a uniform dispersion of two or
more components.

stabilizer, foam stabilizer,
colloidal stabilizer, emulsion
stabilizer

26. Sweetener

A food additive (other than a mono- or
disaccharide sugar), which imparts a sweet
taste to a food.

sweetener, intense sweetener, bulk
sweetener

27. Thickener

A food additive, which increases the
viscosity of a food.

thickener, bodying agent, binder,
texturizing agent


Chemistry and Human

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