GSFA Online

Glossary of Terms

This page contains explanatory text of terms commonly used in this database.

Food Additive
"Any substance not normally consumed as a food by itself and not normally used as a typical ingredient of the food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological (including organoleptic) purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packing, packaging, transport or holding of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result (directly or indirectly), in it or its by-products becoming a component of or otherwise affecting the characteristics of such foods. The term does not include contaminants or substances added to food for maintaining or improving nutritional qualities." (Codex Procedural Manual, 15th edition).
Food Additive Group
Food additives that have been evaluated by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) as a group. The maximum level of use for a food additive group applies singly or in combination to all members of the group.

In the database, food additive groups are indicated in UPPERCASE.
Food Additive Provision
The conditions of use for a food additive are specified in the Codex GSFA. These include: the application of the General Principles for the Use of Food Additives (Section 3), Good Manufacturing Practices (Section 3.3), the maximum level of use, the food category and any special conditions as described in the "notes". Users are encouraged to consult the Preamble when using the database.
Food Additive Synonym
An alternative name used for a specific food additive.

In the database "synonyms" are identified by an asterisk (*).
Food Category
A class of foods as described in Section 5 "Food Category System" of the Preamble and in Annex B of the Codex GSFA.
Food Category Number
Each food category (e.g., "Milk plain") is associated with a number (e.g., "01.1.1.1") that reflects the hierarchical structure of the Food Category System of the Codex GSFA.
Functional Class
Denotes the functional use of an additive as determined by the Codex Class Names and the International Numbering System (INS) for Food Additives (CAC/GL 36-1989). Functional classes are intended for labelling purposes and to be informative to consumers. N.B. Please note that the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants is currently reviewing the Codex "Class Name and International Numbering System" to harmonise the food additive functional effect terms (classes and technological function) used by Codex and JECFA and to update the food additive functional classes associated with each food additive listed in the INS. It is expected that this work will result in clarification of the food additive functional effects associated with the food additive provisions listed in the GSFA.
GMP
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for food additives are described in Section 3.3 of the Preamble of the Codex General Standard for Food Additives as follows:

"All food additives subject to the provisions of this Standard shall be used under conditions of good manufacturing practice, which include the following:

  1. the quantity of the additive added to food shall be limited to the lowest possible level necessary to accomplish its desired effect;
  2. the quantity of the additive that becomes a component of food as a result of its use in the manufacturing, processing or packaging of a food and which is not intended to accomplish any physical, or other technical effect in the food itself, is reduced to the extent reasonably possible; and,
  3. the additive is prepared and handled in the same way as a food ingredient."
GSFA
The Codex General Standard for Food Additives(CX/STAN 192-1995)
INS Number
A number assigned to a food additive in accordance with the Codex Class Names and the International Numbering System (INS) for Food Additives (CAC/GL 36-1989)
JECFA
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. The summary and conclusions of recent JECFA meetings and other relevant information, such as call for data for future meetings, are available on the JECFA website at FAO and the JECFA website at WHO. JECFA reports and toxicological monographs can be found here. JECFA specifications can be found here.
Table 3
Provides a link to the list of food additives included in Table 3 of the Codex GSFA (i.e., food additives which are permitted in food in general in accordance with GMP, unless otherwise specified).

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