Additives and E numbers

Retained EU law, applicable in Scotland, requires food additives to be assessed for safety before they can be used in food.

E numbers on additives mean they have passed safety tests and have been approved for use in Great Britain including Scotland.

Find out more about additives and e-numbers on the Food Standards Agency website.

'Southampton Six' food colours

Consumption of mixes of certain artificial food colours and the preservative sodium benzoate could be linked to increased hyperactivity in some children. 

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information on the artificial colours and preservatives.

Industry guidelines for Glycerol (E 422)

Glycerol (E 422) is authorised as a food additive in accordance with Annex II of retained Regulation (EU)  No 1333/2008 on food additives. It is permitted for use at quantum satis in flavoured drinks. Quantum satis means no maximum numerical level is specified and substances must be used in accordance with good manufacturing practice, at a level not higher than is necessary to achieve the intended purpose and provided the consumer is not misled.

Glycerol (E 422) is a key ingredient used in the production of slush ice drinks, having the function of maintaining the slush properties, to prevent the liquid freezing solid. However, there have been cases of children becoming unwell following excessive consumption. Food Standards Scotland (FSS), alongside the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been working with industry on voluntary guidance to protect vulnerable consumers and has agreed the following four principles. These are not a legal requirement but are considered best practice.

Industry guidelines for glycerol in Slush ice drinks:

  1. Brand owners will ensure that their customers are fully aware of the FSA’s risk assessment of the use of glycerol in slush ice drinks.
  2. Brand owners will formulate products to contain glycerol at the minimum quantity technically necessary to achieve the required ‘slush’ drink effect.
  3. Brand owners will advise their customers that sales of slush ice drinks containing glycerol should be accompanied by a written warning visible at point of sale that ‘’Product contains glycerol. Not recommended for children 4 years of age and under’’.
  4. The business model of free refills is not recommended in venues where children under the age of 10 years will consume them.

The above industry guidelines are based on a worst-case scenario, of a slush ice drink containing the top level of 50,000 mg/L glycerol as potential exposure. If in the future, collectively, industry decide to drop the glycerol levels, these guidelines can be reassessed.

Slush ice drinks can contain the ingredient glycerol as a substitute for sugar, at a level required to create the ‘slush’ effect. At this level, FSS and the FSA recommend that children four years of age and under should not consume these drinks, due to their potential to cause side-effects such as headaches and sickness, particularly when consumed in excess.

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Labelling and composition standards

Food Standards Scotland has policy responsibility for food information, food labelling, food standards and nutrition labelling in Scotland.