The regulations governing Natamycin include its classification within the 27 categories of food additives, and its specific numerical code known as the “E” number.
The E (European) code appears on the labels that cover food packaging to provide consumers with information about the food safety of the product.
Only the additives that the European Union considers safe for consumption are authorised with an E number.
Natamycin is classified as a preservative, and its code is E-235.
The regulations also tell food manufacturers the extent to which they are permitted to use each food additive, to ensure products are preserved in excellent condition until they reach the consumer’s table.
From the point of view of food safety, the European authorities establish the concept of the ADI (or Acceptable Daily Intake) for each one, which is the maximum amount of each additive that a person can consume, based on an average diet.
The ADI determines how many additives can be used safely in food, and stipulates equal thresholds for use by all manufacturers in the same territory, such as the European Union or America.
The ADI is a practical way to ensure that additives are used in the same way in all foods, regardless of where they are produced and where they are consumed. The ADI is not the same for each additive, or for each use made of them.
The ADI is established and subject to constant review as a result of the scientific research carried out by both the agrifood industry and the international food and health authorities.
In the European Union, the additives permitted for use by the current legislation are all those that have been evaluated by the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF), and which all the countries have agreed should be included in the relevant legislation.
New changes in the application of additives in food packaging
Scientific research and food regulations are changing to keep pace with constant changes in the food eaten in the world.
The packaging of products is undoubtedly one of the areas where developments are taking place at highest speed in the food industry. It is no longer a question of adding layers and layers of materials which accumulate waste that are difficult to manage environmentally, but instead of using the minimum possible packaging which ensures that while the packaging is in contact with the food, it protects it during transportation and storage, until it reaches the final consumer.
This is possible due to the application of food additives in active packaging, which also means that doses of Natamycin and other additives are released gradually, without affecting the quality and safety of the food.
The image below provides a graphic summary of how nanoparticles loaded with anti-microbial additives are used in food packaging, in one of the most advanced technologies applied to the packaging of food products.
Source: Antimicrobial-loaded nanocarriers for food packaging applications. Science Direct. 2020.