Industry guidelines for the food additive glycerol (E 422) in slush ice drinks

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Glycerol (E 422)

Glycerol (E 422) is authorised as a food additive in accordance with Annex II of the retained EU legislation (REUL) on food additives Regulation No 1333/2008 (Commission Regulation 1333/2008 in Northern Ireland). 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. FSS and the FSA has been working with industry on voluntary guidance to protect vulnerable consumers and has agreed the four principles listed below. 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.

Explanatory text 

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, we 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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