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SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 106/17

SafeGuardS Freshly blended fruit smoothies of various colors and tastes

On May 22, 2017, the European Commission published Regulation (EU) 2017/874 [1], amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008, concerning the use of butane (E943a), isobutane (E 943b) and propane (E 944) in color preparation.

Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 [2] lays down a list of substances approved for use as food additives, food enzymes, food flavorings, and nutrients, as well as their conditions of use. The list may be updated in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1331/2008 [3], thus establishing a common authorization procedure for food additives, food enzymes and food flavorings.

Butane, isobutane and propane can be used as propellants to expel color preparations from a spray in order to obtain a regular color covering on foods.

In 1991, the Scientific Committee for Food evaluated the safety of butane, isobutane and propane as extraction solvents and found an acceptable residue limit in food of 1 mg/kg per substance. In 1999, the EU expressed the opinion that butane, isobutane and propane, when used in vegetable oil-based aerosol cooking sprays and water-based emulsion cooking sprays for baking and frying, has no toxicological concerns at the low residue level for propellant gases. Moreover, the applicant has provided analytical data to confirm that one hour after spraying various foods, the residues of butane, isobutane and propane are below the limit of 1 mg/kg.

Therefore, butane (E 943a), isobutane (E 943b) and propane (E 944) were authorized for use as propellants in color preparation, as defined in Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 and, due to risk of ignition and the time needed to decrease the levels of propellants to less than the limit of 1 mg/kg, it is appropriate to grant the authorization for professional use only. This ensures the standardized industrial protocols are respected and the time between spraying and consumption is sufficient to comply with the acceptable residue limit.

In part 2 of Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008, the following entry for E 903 has been inserted, as follows:

E 943a  Butane 1 mg/kg in final food Color preparations of group II and group III
as defined in Part C of Annex II (for professional use only)
E 943b Isobutane 1 mg/kg in final food Color preparations of group II and group III
as defined in Part C of Annex II (for professional use only)
E 944 Propane 1 mg/kg in final food Color preparations of group II and group III
as defined in Part C of Annex II (for professional use only)

This amendment entered into force on June 12, 2017.

What do the changes mean?

EU Member States, third-party countries and food business operators must ensure their finished products comply with the regulation as it has been amended regarding the use of butane (E 943a), isobutane (E 943b) and propane (E 944) in color preparation. For more information, or to discuss your testing, analysis and certification requirements contact a food safety expert, such as SGS.

NEXT STEP: This amendment is already in force.

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulation news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions including analytical tests, audits, certifications, inspections, and technical support. We continually invest in our testing, capability, and state-of-the art technology to help you reduce risk, and to improve food safety and quality. For more information, please visit our website:

For enquiries, please contact:

Naovarat Dachprasat
Food Technical Support Center
t: +66 2683 0541 ext 2168

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