Scientists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have confirmed that the food additives sodium, potassium, calcium salts of fatty acids, and magnesium salts of fatty acids are safe to consume.

The re-evaluation by the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (PFANS) found no data on subchronic toxicity, chronic toxicity, and reproductive and developmental toxicity of the fatty acid salts, concluding that there was no need to propose a daily intake level.

The food additives are used by food manufacturers as emulsifiers and stabilisers to aid a product’s texture and structure. They are usually labelled E470a, with the exception of magnesium salts of fatty acids, which is known as E470b.

The Food Additives and Ingredients Association (FAIA) said that these additives are rarely used in food production.

“FAIA members manufacturing and supplying these food additives are currently reviewing the EFSA recommendations for revising the specifications,” a spokesperson said.

Food additives were first evaluated in 1991 by the EFSA’s Scientific Committee on Food, which did not specify a daily intake maximum for the fatty acids myristic, stearic, palmitic and oleic acid, or their salts.

PFANS has now confirmed that there is no need for a numerical acceptable daily intake and there were no outstanding safety concerns related to E470a and E470b.

The panel did suggest that these food additives can be manufactured by glycerolysis of hydrogenated fats or oils, which contain high levels of trans-fatty acids. PFANS called on the European Commission to investigate EU specifications for trans-fatty acids more closely.

The panel also advised the European Commission to make a legal distinction between sourced additives from edible fats and oils and additives derived from hydrogenated fats and oils.