The WHO has established that a periodic review of the specifications pertaining to food additives is called for in the context of changes in the patterns of use, in the raw materials used and the introduction of new processes differing significantly from those that existed when the specifications were established or last revised(1).
According to the FAO,(2) the last revision of the tartaric acid monograph took place in 1977, at a juncture when no tartaric acid was obtained by the enzymatic process now commercially available(3). The European Pharmacopoeia Commission shares this position(4),(5).
Nowadays an unregulated synthetic product is commercially available in the EU, with no differentiated technical restrictions applied, putting natural tartaric acid producers at a disadvantage.
Traders and end consumers are helpless in relation to synthetic tartaric acid and the possible presence of undesirable residues or contaminants not taken into account in the current food additive Regulation or in the Pharmacopoeia.
Synthetic tartaric acid comes from a mineral carbon source, which means that it is possible to make a distinction between products of synthetic and natural origin by means of Carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance (C-NMR) or High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) analytical methods.
In light of the above statements:
What action will the Commission take, bearing in mind that available analytical methods can differentiate between the two products, in order to ensure the consumer protection needed?
Will the Commission consider the European Pharmacopoeia Commission’s position and take it into account in the Additives European Code (number E) and in the Customs Code?