Flavourings and flavouring substances, whether natural (of plant, animal or microbiological origin) or synthetic, are not consumed on their own but are added to foods in order to give them a specific smell and/or taste. Their use must be specified in the list of ingredients for the foodstuffs containing them.
To be considered "natural" the flavouring agents used must be entirely of natural origin. Therefore, if the source of the flavouring is mentioned, at least 95% of its flavouring component must be obtained from the raw material in question, for example cacao flavouring.
Flavourings are subject to an EU-wide harmonised regulatory framework through Regulation EC/1331/2008. Before being authorised by the European Commission, flavourings are submitted for evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A programme for assessing flavouring substances is currently underway on the European level in compliance with regulation EC/2232/96. ANSES provides the French authorities with scientific and technical expertise when necessary in order to inform the work initiated.
Regulation (EC) no. 1334/2008 establishes the conditions for use of flavourings. It also specifies the banned flavours and substances, the maximum allowable levels for certain flavours and the applicable EU labelling rules.