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Food E Numbers & Food Additives: Useful Information

The ‘E’ on E numbers on a food label stands for ‘Europe’. Food E Numbers are a set of codes for substances used as food additives. Commonly found on food labels, their safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of Regulatory Authorities

Having a single unified list for food additives was first agreed upon in 1962 with food colouring. In 1964, the directives for preservatives were added, in 1970 antioxidants were added, in 1974 emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners, and gelling agents were added as well.

Broad overview:

  • E100–E199: Colours
  • E200–E299: Preservatives
  • E300–E399 (antioxidants, acidity regulators)
  • E400–E499 (thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers)
  • E500–E599 (acidity regulators, anti-caking agents)
  • E600–E699 (flavour enhancer)
  • E700–E799 (antibiotics)
  • E900–E999 (glazing agents, gases and sweeteners)
  • E1000–E1599 (additional additives)

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Identifying Food Additives – MPI

Information about Chemicals in Food

Food Safe offers food safety training that includes food labels as part of its training content.

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