(NaturalNews) Several concentrated smoke flavorings may pose health risks in humans, according to the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA's) panel on flavorings.
"The panel expressed safety concerns for several smoke flavorings where intake levels could be relatively close to the levels which may cause negative health effects," said panel chair Klaus-Dieter Jany.
Researchers tested 11 different flavors used as an alternative to actually smoking meat, cheese, fish, cereals, soups and spices, concluding that the use of several "at the intended levels is a safety concern." They raised particular concerns about the flavoring Primary Product AM01, which has been shown to cause changes in the rate of weight gain in young animals and changes in the blood of both juveniles and adults.
AM01 is derived by making a solution from the hot vapors produced by burning beech wood.
The EFSA noted that although the commonly used doses of the various flavoring might be low enough to pose little health risk, it is erring on the side of caution.
"The Panel based its conclusions on the limited data which are currently available as well as conservative -- or cautious -- intake estimates," Jany said.
"In order to be on the safe side, the consumption estimates deliberately over-estimate intake levels."
"[We] will be asking the European Commission to consider whether the range of products where these flavorings are permitted, or the permitted use level, needs to be reduced to ensure any potential risk is kept as low as possible," said a spokesperson for the U.K. Food Standards Agency. "For AM 01, we will also be pressing for additional information to be supplied to EFSA, as soon as possible, to address their concerns."
By law, products are required to disclose whether they have used flavoring agents. Such labels need not be more specific than "artificial (or natural) flavors" or "smoke flavor," however, making it impossible for consumers to avoid any specific smoke flavor ingredients.