EFSA: No safety issues over acacia gum as food additive

Acacia Gum (E 414) is authorised as a food additive in the European Union (EU) in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives.©iStock

Acacia gum is safe for use as a food additive concludes the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) following a risk re-evaluation request from the European Commission.

Based on previous evaluations, newly available literature and a public call for data, the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) ruled there was no safety concern for the reported roles of acacia gum (E 414).

Acacia gum is currently authorised for use in a wide range of foods such as unflavoured fermented milk products, cheeses, and foods for infants and young children.

According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) in the EU market, snacks and breakfast cereals are labelled with acacia gum, as well as a range of alcoholic drinks and nectars.

EFSA stated that the Commission requested the re-evaluation of the safety of food additives already permitted in the Union before 2009 and to issue scientific opinions on these additives,

They were also asked to set up a programme for the re-evaluation of approved food additives in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008.

Acacia gum profile

Acacia gum is a dried exudation obtained from the stems and branches of natural strains of A. senegal(L.) Willdenow or closely related species of Acacia (family Leguminosae).

The Panel noted that the botanical origin and the polysaccharidic nature of gums, meant they could be a source of microbiological contamination and of field and storage fungal development.

As a precaution they requested that acacia gum criteria for total aerobic microbial count (TAMC) and total combined yeasts and moulds count (TYMC) should be included into the EU specifications.

The Panel also found that acacia gum was not absorbed intact but fermented by enteric bacteria in humans.

“The rate of hydrolysis in the gastrointestinal tract in humans is unknown and that the limited extent of its fermentation would lead to products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which were considered of no safety concern by the Panel.”

Additional animal studies assessing acacia gum’s oral, geno, or carcinogenicity warranted no cause for concern for the Panel.

In addition, no case reports on allergic reaction after oral exposure to acacia gum could be identified.

In humans, the repeated oral daily intake of a large amount of acacia gum up to 30 g (approx. 430 mg acacia gum/kg bw per day) for up to 18 days was well tolerated and had only a minimum effect on stool weight and decrease in serum cholesterol.

Some individuals experienced flatulence which was considered by the Panel as undesirable but not adverse.

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