The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed that sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium salts of fatty acids are safe when used as food additives.

The study, carried out by the EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS), said there was no data on toxicity of the fatty acid salts and there was no need to set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) standard, wrote Food Navigator on 6 March.

Sodium, potassium and calcium salts of fatty acids were usually labelled as E470a and magnesium salts as E470b on food packaging and they were used as emulsifiers and stabilisers.

UK-headquartered Food Additives and Ingredients Association said none of the reviewed additives were widely used in the industry but the approval was positive news in any case.

ANS concluded that there were no safety concerns regarding either E470a or E470b at reported uses and use levels and that it was unlikely that they would be used in combination in a single food product.

As such, the panel performed the exposure assessment for the fatty acid salts separately per food category and not together.

Nonetheless, ANS recommended that the European Commission should revise the EU specifications for additives by including maximum limits on trans fatty acids, as E470a and E470b could be manufactured through glycerolysis of hydrogenated oils and fats that could contain “significant amounts” of trans fats.

The panel also encouraged the Commission to rephrase the definition of what constitutes a fatty acid salt to clarify that the fatty acids used as raw materials for the salts must come from edible fats and oils.

EFSA’s Scientific Committee on Food originally reviewed E470a and E470b in 1991 and it concluded that there was no need to establish ADIs for myristic, stearic, palmitic and oleic fatty acids and their salts.